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About gynocentrism

Gynocentrism n. (Greek, γυνή, “female” – Latin centrum, “centred” ) refers to a dominant or exclusive focus on women in theory or practice; or to the advocacy of this.1 Anything can be considered gynocentric (Adj.) when it is concerned exclusively with a female (or specifically a feminist) point of view.2

History

Elements of gynocentric culture existing today are derived from practices originating in medieval society such as feudalism, chivalry and courtly love that continue to inform contemporary society in subtle ways. Peter Wright refers to such gynocentric patters as constituting a “sexual feudalism,” as attested by female writers like Lucrezia Marinella who in 1600 AD recounted that women of lower socioeconomic classes were treated as superiors by men who acted as servants or beasts born to serve them, or by Modesta Pozzo who in 1590 wrote;

“don’t we see that men’s rightful task is to go out to work and wear themselves out trying to accumulate wealth, as though they were our factors or stewards, so that we can remain at home like the lady of the house directing their work and enjoying the profit of their labors? That, if you like, is the reason why men are naturally stronger and more robust than us — they need to be, so they can put up with the hard labor they must endure in our service.”3

The golden casket above depicting scenes of servile behaviour toward women were typical of courtly love culture of the Middle Ages. Such objects were given to women as gifts by men seeking to impress. Note the woman standing with hands on hips in a position of authority, and the man being led around by a neck halter, his hands clasped in a position of subservience.

It’s clear that much of what we today call gynocentrism was invented in the Middle Ages with the cultural practices of romantic chivalry and courtly love. In 12th century Europe, feudalism served as the basis for a new kind of love in which men were to play the role of vassal to women who played the role of an idealized Lord. C.S. Lewis, back in the middle of the 20th Century, referred to this historical revolution as “the feudalisation of love,” and stated that it has left no corner of our ethics, our imagination, or our daily life untouched. “Compared with this revolution,” states Lewis, “the Renaissance is a mere ripple on the surface of literature.”4 Lewis states;

“Everyone has heard of courtly love, and everyone knows it appeared quite suddenly at the end of the eleventh century at Languedoc. The sentiment, of course, is love, but love of a highly specialized sort, whose characteristics may be enumerated as Humility, Courtesy, and the Religion of Love. The lover is always abject. Obedience to his lady’s lightest wish, however whimsical, and silent acquiescence in her rebukes, however unjust, are the only virtues he dares to claim. Here is a service of love closely modelled on the service which a feudal vassal owes to his lord. The lover is the lady’s ‘man’. He addresses her as midons, which etymologically represents not ‘my lady’ but ‘my lord’. The whole attitude has been rightly described as ‘a feudalisation of love’. This solemn amatory ritual is felt to be part and parcel of the courtly life.” 5

With the advent of (initially courtly) women being elevated to the position of ‘Lord’ in intimate relationships, and with this general sentiment diffusing to the masses and across much of the world today, we are justified in talking of a gynocentric cultural complex that affects, among other things, relationships between men and women. Further, unless evidence of widespread gynocentric culture can be found prior to the Middle Ages, then gynocentrism is precisely 800 years old. In order to determine if this thesis is valid we need to look further at what we mean by “gynocentrism”.

Gynocentrism as a cultural phenomenon

The term gynocentrism has been in circulation since the 1800’s, with the general definition being “focused on women; concerned with only women.” 6 From this definition we see that gynocentrism could refer to any female-centered practice, or to a single gynocentric act carried out by one individual. There is nothing inherently wrong with a gynocentric act (eg. celebrating Mother’s Day) , or for that matter an androcentric act (celebrating Father’s Day). However when a given act becomes instituted in the culture to the exclusion of other acts we are then dealing with a hegemonic custom — i.e. such is the relationship custom of elevating women to the role of Lord in relation to male vassals.

Author of Gynocentrism Theory Adam Kostakis has attempted to expand the definition of gynocentrism to refer to “male sacrifice for the benefit of women” and “the deference of men to women,” and he concludes; “Gynocentrism, whether it went by the name honor, nobility, chivalry, or feminism, its essence has gone unchanged. It remains a peculiarly male duty to help the women onto the lifeboats, while the men themselves face a certain and icy death.” 7

While we can agree with Kostakis’ descriptions of assumed male duty, the phrase gynocentric culture more accurately carries his intention than gynocentrism alone. Thus when used alone in the context of this website ‘gynocentrism’ refers to part or all of gynocentric culture, which is defined here as any culture instituting rules for gender relationships that benefit females at the expense of males across a broad range of measures.

At the base of gynocentric culture lies the practice of enforced male sacrifice for the benefit of women. If we accept this definition we must look back and ask whether male sacrifices throughout history were always made for the sake women, or alternatively for the sake of some other primary goal? For instance, when men went to die in vast numbers in wars, was it for women, or was it rather for Man, King, God and Country? If the latter we cannot then claim that this was a result of some intentional gynocentric culture, at least not in the way I have defined it here. If the sacrifice isn’t intended directly for the benefit women, even if women were occasional beneficiaries of male sacrifice, then we are not dealing with gynocentric culture.

Male utility and disposability strictly “for the benefit of women” comes in strongly only after the advent of the 12th century gender revolution in Europe – a revolution that delivered us terms like gallantry, chivalry, chivalric love, courtesy, damsels, romance and so on. From that period onward gynocentric practices grew exponentially, culminating in the demands of today’s feminist movement. In sum, gynocentrism (ie. gynocentric culture) was a patchy phenomenon at best before the middle ages, after which it became ubiquitous.

With this in mind it makes little sense to talk of gynocentric culture starting with the industrial revolution a mere 200 years ago (or 100 or even 30 yrs ago), or of it being two million years old as some would argue. We are not only fighting two million years of genetic programming; our culturally constructed problem of gender inequity is much simpler to pinpoint and to potentially reverse. All we need do is look at the circumstances under which gynocentrism first began to flourish and attempt to reverse those circumstances. Specifically, that means rejecting the illusions of romantic love (feudalised love), along with the practices of misandry, male shaming and servitude that ultimately support it.

La Querelle des Femmes, and advocacy for women

The Querelle des Femmes translates as the “quarrel about women” and amounts to what we might today call a gender-war. The querelle had its beginning in twelfth century Europe and finds its culmination in the feminist-driven ideology of today (though some authors claim, unconvincingly, that the querelle came to an end in the 1700s). The basic theme of the centuries-long quarrel revolved, and continues to revolve, around advocacy for the rights, power and status of women, and thus Querelle des Femmes serves as the originating title for gynocentric discourse.

If we consider the longevity of this revolution we might be inclined to agree with Barbarossaaa’s claim “that feminism is a perpetual advocacy machine for women”.

To place the above events into a coherent timeline, chivalric servitude toward women was elaborated and given patronage first under the reign of Eleanor of Aquitaine (1137-1152) and instituted culturally throughout Europe over the subsequent 200 year period. After becoming thus entrenched on European soil there arose the Querelle des Femmes which refers to the advocacy culture that arose for protecting, perpetuating and increasing female power in relation to men that continues, in an unbroken tradition, in the efforts of contemporary feminism.8

Writings from the Middle Ages forward are full of testaments about men attempting to adapt to the feudalisation of love and the serving of women, along with the emotional agony, shame and sometimes physical violence they suffered in the process. Gynocentric chivalry and the associated querelle have not received much elaboration in men’s studies courses to-date, but with the emergence of new manuscripts and quality English translations it may be profitable to begin blazing this trail.9

References

1. Oxford English Dictionary – Vers.4.0 (2009), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199563838
2. Oxford English Dictionary 2010
3. Modesta Pozzo, The Worth of Women: their Nobility and Superiority to Men
4. C.S. Lewis, Friendship, chapter in The Four Loves, HarperCollins, 1960
5. C.S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love, Oxford University Press, 1936
6. Dictionary.com – Gynocentric
7. Adam Kostakis, Gynocentrism Theory – (Published online, 2011). Although Kostakis assumes gynocentrism has been around throughout recorded history, he singles out the Middle Ages for comment: “There is an enormous amount of continuity between the chivalric class code which arose in the Middle Ages and modern feminism… One could say that they are the same entity, which now exists in a more mature form – certainly, we are not dealing with two separate creatures.”
8. Joan Kelly, Early Feminist Theory and the Querelle des Femmes (1982), reprinted in Women, History and Theory, UCP (1984)
9. The New Male Studies Journal has published thoughtful articles touching on the history and influence of chivalry in the lives of males.

Pixabay men

Breaking the Mold: Narrative Therapy With Men

By Peter Wright & Paul Elam

As men, we are born into the storybook world of brave knights saving damsels, stoic acts in the face of pain and suffering, and glorious deeds of male heroics. All these things constitute the psychological diet on which boys are raised.

Whether Sir Lancelot, Superman, a great athlete or firefighter, these archetypes silently shape our identity and direct our behaviors, often for the better and often at great cost. They are the living templates men use to map their world, to construct their sense of self, and to direct their behaviors in relationships with others.

Therapy with men, then, must involve a significant and compassionate understanding of the narratives that guide them, and must work within those narratives to carve out a path toward meaningful change.

To that end we will tentatively title a male-friendly approach to working with men, a Narrative Therapy With Men.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of narrative therapy, we need first to examine the place where therapy, coaching and counseling happens, which is more often than not an environment tailored to suit female sensibilities.

The Therapeutic Setting

Many therapy rooms have pretty decor, flowers, artwork, an essential-oil diffuser, and of course face-to-face seating positioned to honor the typical female preference for eye to eye contact and sharing.

You will find tissues placed conveniently on a side table in a decorative box, conveying the silent expectation of tears, shared feelings, and emotional catharsis.

In a way the therapy office mimics an hour at the cafe sipping lattes, for which women might prepare by thinking about what clothing to wear and what juicy bits of personal drama they might like to share. Then to round it off with all the sincerity of here’s your bill and have-a-nice-day.

So much for the male friendly therapy environment.

Imagine instead a therapy office in the boiler room of a ship, in a workshop, a park, a building site, mechanics shed or a sports locker room, with seating arrangements that allowed men to sit at 45 degree angles or side by side — engaged in some kind of task if they wished.

Imagine too if we were to engage in some kind of typical male play or industry – not just Jungian sandplay or water-color art therapies as suits the more effeminate sensibilities of women, but hands on therapy – while driving a truck, fixing the engine of a car or building a piece of furniture.

Or, if you prefer, something recreational. Standing on a peer fishing, hiking up the side of a hill or sitting beside a campfire.

When it comes to communication, men like a medium, something through which to channel their energy.

Lea Winerman, a staff writer for the American Psychological Association asks us to “imagine the Marlboro man in therapy.”

“The image just doesn’t compute, does it?” she half-asks, half-declares. Then she adds with obligatory condescension, “The Marlboro man wouldn’t admit to needing help.”

We can agree with Winerman that it is impractical to expect the Marlboro Man to sit in a feminized office, with a feminist-trained female counselor and gush his emotions on demand. But perhaps he would be more open to discussing his issues while riding a horse, stacking bales of hay or enjoying a beer?

As with boys, who are more engaged when kinetic learning is applied to the school curriculum, men too are generally more inclined to thrive outside of the prettified and sedentary counselor’s office — in the world where real life takes place.

For most men the average counseling office is not only in poor taste, it is at once anesthetizing and pressurized. It is an environment where the senses are dulled and urges male participants to do something that is already likely a problem in their lives – the expectation to perform for the benefit of a woman.

This is a critical point to make. As we examine the narratives of men, as we look at their stories, what we find with great redundancy is the expectation for them to perform for women. From the mandate to please mothers, to protection and provision for women, to heroic sacrifice and even down to the basic assumed responsibility for the female orgasm, we see men in a role to satisfy through performance.

What then can possibly be happening in the minds of men sitting in female dominated space, box of tissue at their side, with a woman saying “tell me how you feel” about this or that? Even worse, asking such probing questions with the implication that he is an empty emotional vessel in need of her redemption.

There is little there for most men. Indeed, if we honestly and compassionately examine the narrative of men’s lives, we have to agree with Ms. Whinerman again. There is no reason to imagine why the Marlboro man, or any other man, would have much to say to her at all, and the ones who do are likely just caving to the pressure to perform.

Without some kind of activity or medium to engage in other than naked personal drama and emoting, men tend to disengage. Feminist inspired therapy would have us believe that this is because men are emotionally stunted and ill-equipped to articulate feelings.

In reality, the only thing men are ill-equipped at is being women, which is why standard talk-therapy is such a poor option for most of them.

Like boys, men are more likely to connect with the therapist and be willing to table his issues (vs share his feelings) when they are engaged in something meaningful.

Rather than shaming men as recalcitrant therapy clients, we must take a different approach and offer them a greater variety of places in which to speak to their issues. Therapy can still take place in the traditional face to face manner in an office, but it can also take place in any of the environments mentioned before, providing the therapist is willing to step out of his or her chair and begin walking, literally, while the therapy takes place.

Alternatively, if the logistics of getting together with the therapist are restrictive, digital mediums like Skype can provide the platform, again with special consideration to siting postures: men might prefer to sit at an angle to the camera and have the therapist do the same, or he might prefer the vision switched to off altogether. For the tech-savvy therapist male-friendly backgrounds for his digital office might be employed on request – a bar, a mechanics shed, a kitchen… you name it.

And yes, unless a client has issues with alcohol, a beer during the session may not be out of the question.

That proposition will seem scandalous to some practitioners. However, we estimate the knee-jerk hostility to such ideas is rooted firmly in an academically acquired ignorance of men and their needs. It is consistent with trying to put them into the female emotional mold.

Finally, the language of the therapeutic session might need to undergo a similar revolution, depending on the client’s imagination, with less emphasis on unquantifiable metaphors like personal growth and empowerment, or on feelings, and more on metaphors of manual-activity to describe emotional processes; men speak in terms of wrestling with challenges, hammering problems out, trying to understand the mechanics of depression, and when considering objectives, they might hope to score a goal: to nail it, as it were.

To summarize, a new therapy for men might consider utilizing new settings for conducting consultations, including the use of a wider range of manual activities – occupations and crafts – as therapeutic mediums.

Having briefly sketched out the ‘where’ of therapy, we can now move onto the ‘what’ of the therapy.

The Practice of Therapy

Narrative Therapy with Men assumes the following principles as axiomatic:

  • Rejects misguided concepts like patriarchy theory and toxic masculinity.
  • By definition it is tailored exclusively to men’s experiences, men’s ways of thinking and behaving.
  • Does not hinge on demonizing or problematizing men
  • Sees learned detachment as essential to problem solving
  • Recognizes the unique emotional and psychological acumen of men
  • Sees the therapist as more of a coach or mentor than an emotional conduit.
  • Seeks to use men’s kinetic inclination as an asset, rather than treat it as an impediment to progress
  • Narratives, the building-blocks of our worldview become the focal point around which the therapy hinges, and include the following objectives:
  1. Identifying the current narrative

The way we tell our story is the way we form our therapy,1 so the first task for each man is to narrate his story about himself and his world. These initial narratives form the primary datum which sets the future direction of the therapy, a direction completely unknown until the stories are verbalized.

As stories are shared, likenesses between them and popular cultural stories can be discussed – such as classical myths, fairy tales, biographies of the famous or from movies, to bring the material alive. The comparison stories act as bass chords that animate the material under discussion, and to help depersonalize the content so that it no longer seems unique and isolating – ie. such stories belong to our collective cultural history and are thus very far from personal.

  1. Externalizing the narrative

Carl Jung was famed for saying “We don’t have complexes, the complexes have us.” The same can be said of narratives, including our personal ones. The stories and archetypes that drive our lives underscore the importance of gaining cognitive and emotional distance from them if we no longer wish to be held under their spell.

This is a radical departure from where most therapies in the modern mold take men. In standard practice the agenda of the therapist is usually to drive the client toward reliving trauma or loss and articulating the feelings that surround those things.

While practitioners with men need to have the skills to comfortably handle emotional upheaval when it happens, the objective is to help the client gain more distance from the inner turmoil, affording them an opportunity for practical, rational solutions.

How else, for instance, can a man stop acting sacrificially with women, until he rejects the sacrificial role? And to reject that role, he must be able to see it from a more objective distance, in practical terms. Men rarely need assistance to realize they are in emotional hell with a woman. They often stay silently immersed in it, entangled hopelessly in trying to find solutions that are not forthcoming.

While an exploration of childhood trauma, abusive parenting and unresolved grief may provide more insight into current life troubles, it will not provide what the client needs most. A path out.

Externalizing a narrative, depersonalizing it, helps us to see it as separate from our own self-image, perhaps for the first time. By abstracting the story and dissociating from it we can more easily edit its details and gain mastery: the narrative no longer has us – we have it.

The therapeutic practice of externalizing narratives has a long history beginning with Freud’s talking cure, Carl Jung’s ‘active imagination‘ to James Hillman’s practice of ‘seeing through narratives‘, and on to newer practices such as Narrative psychology and Narrative therapy.

None of the aforementioned, however, have actively applied the technique to the stories men live by – a shameful oversight for therapies claiming to plumb the depths of human experience.

The life of men has heretofore been shrouded in a cloud of repression, amnesia and denial, ironically aided and abetted by the very psychologists called to lift the lid on that repression.

While some have claimed to help men raise consciousness, what in most instances has happened is therapists adding yet more layers of faulty text to an already burdensome set of male narratives. Narrative Therapy with Men aims to reverse the tradition of neglect.

  1. Problematizing the narrative

A core tenet of Narrative Therapy with Men is that Men are not the problem, the narrative is the problem.

We view this approach to be corrective on its face. Men are universally saddled with the artifacts of a faulty narrative. Whether that is driven by a failure to be heroic or successful enough to fulfill historic male expectations, or whether it is the more modernized narrative of toxic masculinity, or both, men typically see themselves as the source of the problem.

Continually failing to fix themselves, which their narrative does not allow them to do, aggravates the situation all the more.

Portions of a given narrative may be destructive and other parts may not, which a joint, detached exploration can discover. It can lead to a discarding of the dysfunctional parts and a retention of those parts retaining value and importance to individual men.

It is as simple as keeping what works and tossing out what doesn’t, which is easier said than done. We view the main obstacle to that, though, as a lack of detachment.

For instance, shame can be a huge impediment. A man can see a problem, but without detachment, his experience of shame can drive him to deny, minimize and avoid the problem. Until, of course, the problem rears its head, causes pain, and the cycle starts all over again.

The only way, we argue, to interrupt that, is through healthy detachment.

An Ear for Men has detailed numerous examples of destructive narratives for men, such as the belief that men are inherently flawed, that they belong to and benefit from Patriarchy, that they must ignore their health to be worthy of relationships, or that their role in life is to serve women in one capacity or another while denying their own needs and value.

To these the new therapy for men applies the razor, surgically removing criticisms of men and replacing them with narratives of self-worth. And, importantly, it allows men the use of their logic and reason to guide the surgery, not their emotional reaction to the problem.

  1. Exploring potential new narratives

Life does not tolerate a void. That is why isolating problem narratives and the work of deleting them runs concurrent with a process of re-narration. In this a therapist and client can be imagined as co-authors working on a novel, where therapist co-writes or ghost-writes a new narrative, running a red pen though all the toxic text.

The new text can be literally anything the client dreams up. The practitioner consults with the client, offers observations, but otherwise gets out of the way and allows the client to have the lead role in the creative aspects of the process.

Narratives men adopt to break free from limiting expectations need not be reduced to reactions against the original problem-riddled narrative, which places the response into a narrow formula of thesis and antithesis. An example of that approach is seen in the tendency of some men to replace misandric narratives with misogynistic narratives. Or, perhaps, men who have been sexually rejected who seek to correct with sexual conquests.

An example of narratives structured along the lines of antithetical reactions vs. more liberating and proactive possibilities was elaborated in an earlier article at An Ear for Men, titled Values-based approach to gynocentrism for men. There we are given the example of three narratives:

1. A gynocentric narrative in need of deletion
2. An anti-gynocentric reactive narrative, and
3. A proactive narrative which transcends the for-and-against-gynocentrism binary

 

  1. Nailing down a narrative

The goal of the new narrative is to serve as a values-centered approach to dealing with self and world.

This part can be somewhat tricky. Values, or what we consider good and bad, right and wrong, purposeful or meaningless, are by necessity a product of our narrative. And they can be as destructive as the narrative itself.

For instance, you can ask a man to tell you about his values. He might tell you that among them are honesty and integrity. So far, so good. But he may also follow that up by saying his values drive him to sacrifice for the benefit of a woman, that a real man takes care of women and shields them from hardship.

The problem with that, as may be apparent, is that millions of men have led themselves to misery, ruin, and even to death, with precisely these values. It is not that their intent is flawed but that they have allowed values for which they have no conscious etiology to put them behind the wheel with a blindfold on, mindless of any values that might have addressed their self-preservation.

Again, a detached review of values, and how they stem from personal narrative is a necessity.

A values-centered ideology is established and articulated by the client at some time during the process of consultations. He may already have his core values clarified and will want to proceed with a narrative that honors them. Alternatively, he may feel his values have been implanted from without or inherited without consent, foreign objects that have brought harm to his health and wellbeing and so seeks to construct a new set of values and an accompanying life script that will do them justice. This can all be done with a practitioner, or simply on a man’s own volition, or with a trusted friend.

______________

That, then is a brief outline of Narrative Therapy with Men. It is not intended to be complete, and is indeed still a nascent approach to working with men. The psychological disciplines, as mentioned earlier, have hinted at this approach, have skirted the ideas contained here but without breaching the sacred wall of feminized psychology.

Now we set about the work of expanding on these ideas and calling on others to do the same.

 

References:

[1] “The way we tell our story is the way we form our therapy” is a quote from Patricia Berry’s essay ‘An Approach To The Dream,’ Spring Journal of Archetype and Culture (1974).

See also:

A new psychology for men
Authoring your own life
Playing your own role in life
A values-centered approach for men

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Damseling, chivalry and courtly love (part two)

The following article is the second of a two-part series. Part one looked at the roots of damseling, chivalry and courtly love in the gynocentric tradition. In part two we look at damseling, chivalry and courtly love as it appears in modern feminism. – PW

_________________

FEMINISM

Before being given the name feminism, the obsession with women’s status was referred to as the Querelle des Femmes or quarrel about women. The querelle consisted of a perpetual social movement that used damseling to call for more courtly love, and more chivalry, which ultimately gave women more power.

The three elements of gynocentrism first born in medieval Europe continue to act as the basis of modern feminism. Indeed feminism today is little more, and little less, than a perpetuation of this medieval triad, giving feminism its internal drive even as feminists disavow these essentials with rhetorical obfuscations.

With this charge in mind let’s revisit the holy trinity above with a focus on behaviors central to modern feminism.

Damseling as “victim feminism”

Most observers today, including feminist observers like Christina Hoff-Sommers, Camille Paglia, Rene Denfeld, Katie Roiphe and others agree that feminism comes close, if not all the way, to being a cult of victimhood.

The phenomenon has variously been referred to as grievance feminism, victim feminism, safe space feminism, and even fainting-couch feminism – with Christina Hoff-Sommers portraying its mythos as “a battle between fragile maidens and evil predators.” 1

Feminist icon Naomi Wolf tells that victim feminism evolved out of “old habits of ladylike behavior that were cloaked in the guise of radicalism,” 2 and laments that a substantial segment of modern feminism is devoted to its cause.

Denfeld writes that current feminists “promote a new status for women: that of the victim,” and adds:

“This is victim mythology. From rape redefinitions to feminist theory on the “patriarchy,” victimization has become the subtext of the movement, the moral to be found in every feminist story. Together these stories form a feminist mythology in which a singular female subject is created: woman as a helpless, violated, and oppressed victim. Victim mythology says that men will always be predators and women will always be their prey. It is a small place to live, a place that tells women that there is really no way out.

“Like other mythologies, victim mythology reduces the complexity of human interaction to grossly oversimplified mythical tales, a one-note song, where the message of the story becomes so important that fiction not only triumphs over fact but the realities of women’s experiences are dismissed and derided when they conflict with the accepted female image.3

While Denfeld does a good job of describing feminism’s victim mentality, she labors under a myth of her own by characterizing it as a “new” fetish among feminists. Anyone reading through the history of feminist literature can see it appealed to by literally every feminist writer. Even a century ago Ernest Belfort Bax was able to say that feminists “do their best to bluff their dupes by posing as the victims of a non-existent male oppression.”4

Feminists well know that the most grotesquely far-fetched cry about the injustice of man to woman will meet with a ready ear. They well know that they get here fond and foolish man on his soft side. Looking at the matter impartially, it is quite evident that man’s treatment of woman is the least vulnerable point in his moral record. Woman, as such, he has always treated with comparative generosity. But it is, of course, to the interests of the abettors of female domination to pretend the contrary. Accordingly everything has been done to excite prejudice in favour of woman as the innocent and guileless victim of man’s tyranny, and the maudlin Feminist sentiment of the “brute” man has been carefully exploited to this end.5

In all of these accounts the behavior being described is damseling, a practice feminists have been at the forefront of preserving from the medieval canon. Evoked in conjunction with claims of male brutality, rapiness, depravity and insensitivity, the ultimate purpose of damseling is to draw chivalric responses from men, a routine Wolf makes clear in her remark that “victim feminism casts women as sexually pure and mystically nurturing, and stresses the evil done to these ‘good’ women as a way to petition for their rights.” 6

A famous example of feminist damseling, both literal and figurative, is Anita Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian is known for raising concerns that video-games are misogynistic – like most everything else found in the feminist worldview. Her primary concern was that female game characters are often portrayed as damsels-in-distress saved by male heroes, which promotes, she says, sexual objectification and a range of other problems. To address that issue in video games she moved to launch a study project to raise awareness.

Sarkeesian established a fundraiser for $6,000.00 for her project, but after receiving some initial trolling by trolls on social media she damseled herself to potential donors by saying she was under grave threat, swooning with such finesse that she was showered with 158K in donations from fellow feminists and white knights. Over a thousand people donated after hearing of her “plight.”

With that financial success, Sarkeesian subsequently replayed the scenario over and again particularly in the context of further fundraising efforts and public speaking; swooning about online attacks directed against her or over female gamers enduring abject sexism, female video-game characters being cast in degrading and/or humiliating roles, and about young impressionable girls being robbed of agency after being subjected to the damsel trope in games.

Sarkeesian’s case is particularly poignant because, from the many subjects she could have highlighted to damsel herself for attention, she chose to damsel herself over the very existence of damsels. This demonstrates that even when disavowing the medieval pageant of damsels in distress, feminists continue to enact it even while obfuscating their complicity in the tradition.

Feminism would have died out long ago if it were not for the power of this ancient ruse, and while damseling continues to draw rewards from a public primed to cater to it, the planet will increasingly come to resemble a tower full of imprisoned, vulnerable Disney Princesses.

Chivalry – from husband Sam to Uncle Sam

Equity feminist Christina Hoff-Sommers states that men need to be civilized with chivalric manners, a belief outlined in an interview with Emily Esfahani Smith, where she said, “Chivalry is grounded in a fundamental reality that defines the relationship between the sexes,” and adding a warning, “If women give up on chivalry, it will be gone.” 7

While feminists like Hoff-Sommers admit their reliance on a sexist version of chivalry, others are less candid about it, going even so far as pretending they don’t need chivalry despite their demonstrable appeal to it in most of their activism. Many observers however can see through the anti-chivalry posturing.

Feminism draws its power from chivalric support, but instead of soliciting it from men in the traditional, interpersonal manner it has learned how to get it solely from the government – holding the government to ransom ever since the suffragettes damsaled the vote for women. Since that time politicians have only been too willing to furnish demands by feminists in exchange for voting the candidate into power and allowing him to retain office – and conversely politicians who fail to uphold the chivalric contract are promptly voted out.

The results of this compact are obvious to anyone who looks at political decisions with impartiality.

Instead of men giving up seats in buses, government now provides seats in legislative assemblies and boardrooms via quotas. Instead of men opening car doors for women, government opens doors into universities and workforces via affirmative action. Instead of men being the sole protectors of women from violence, government now protects them with an army of police specially trained to service women’s accusations (over and above more serious crimes). Instead of men providing living expenses, governments now provide it as social welfare and compensation for the wage-gap. Government as substitute husband.

The appeal to chivalry is not confined to government institutions alone. The appeal also goes out to sporting clubs, business owners, CEOs and private institutions who respond to the damsel’s call with women-only busses, women-only safe spaces, pink car parking spaces with extra lighting and security with male escorts and chaperones, or with feminist adverts at sports venues, sportsmen wearing pink to raise money for all manner of feminist projects, and that on top of monies already heaped at their feet by politicians eager to please.

This is not a recent development; it can be witnessed in mirror image as far back as a century ago. Back then, Bax was able to tie feminism so definitively with the act of chivalry-seeking that he actually labeled the women’s liberation movement “chivalry feminism.” Moreover, Bax saw through the superficial disavowals;

“The justification for the whole movement of Modern Feminism in one of its main practical aspects – namely, the placing of the female sex in the position of privilege, advantage and immunity – is concentrated in the current conception of “chivalry.”

It is plain then that chivalry as understood in the present day really spells sex privilege and sex favouritism pure and simple, and that any attempts to define the term on a larger basis, or to give it a colourable rationality founded on fact, are simply subterfuges, conscious or unconscious, on the part of those who put them forward…

Such is “chivalry” as understood to-day – the deprivation, the robbery from men of the most elementary personal rights in order to endow women with privileges at the expense of men.8

Chivalry feminism today, same as it ever was, relying on men’s generosity to perpetuate its creed of power.

Courtly love as ‘Respectful Relationships’

The phrase ‘Respectful Relationships’ is shorthand for a range of conventions promoted by feminists to govern interactions between men and women, particularly in the context of romantic interactions. The conventions detail acceptable speech and actions in the contexts of socializing, friendship, flirting and sex, emphasizing a man’s duty to respect women’s emotional comfort, self-esteem, and dignity.

Portrayed overtly as a method of reducing men’s abusiveness, the program maintains that even men and boys who do not display abusive behaviors should be enculturated in its protocols as a prophylactic, and concomitantly to afford dignity and self-esteem to women. This is where the respectful relationships program moves past the overt goal of reducing violence and into the covert goal of maintaining and increasing the power of women.

As we begin to look at the detail of Respectful Relationship we could almost mistake it for Andreas Capellanus’ work The Art of Courtly Love where the medieval rules of romance were codified in meticulous prescriptions for male deference, homage, and courtesy toward women. Considering this parallel, the feminist movement appears to have provided a new language for a very old set of sexual customs, essentially reiterating that which has been with us all along.

As mentioned in Part one, central to the art of courtly love was the expectation that men practice love service toward women based on a model of vassals or serfs in relation to a feudal lord. That relationship model of serf-to-Lord was adopted wholesale to regulate love relationships whereby women were literally approached as the lord (midons) in each male-female encounter. As Medievalist Sandra Alfonsi explains;

Scholars soon saw striking parallels between feudalistic practices and certain tenets of Courtly Love. The comparisons lie in certain resemblances shared by vassalage and the courtly “love service.” Fundamental to both was the concept of obedience. As a vassal, the liegeman swore obedience to his lord. As a courtly lover, the poet chose a lady to whom he was required to swear obedience. Humility and obedience were two concepts familiar to medieval man, active components of his Weltanschauung…

The entire concept of love-service was patterned after the vassal’s oath to serve his lord with loyalty, tenacity, and courage. These same virtues were demanded of the poet. Like the liegeman vis-a-vis his sovereign, the poet approached his lady with fear and respect. Submitted to her, obedient to her will, he awaited a fief or honor as did the vassal. His compensation took many forms: the pleasure of his lady’s company in her chamber or in the garden; an avowal of her love; a secret meeting; a kiss or even le surplus, complete unity. Like the lord, the woman who was venerated and served was expected to reward her faithful and humble servant.9

The idea behind love service was that men should demonstrate the quality of their commitment to women; was it merely lust or obedient and sacrificial love? If the woman decided it was “love” then she might decide to engage more intimately with him, as Joseph Campbell explains:

“The woman is looking for authenticity in a relationship, so she delays merci until she is guaranteed that this man who is proposing himself to her is one of a gentle heart… And, the women were in control, that’s all there is to it. The man is the one who is advancing, the one performing the acts of guarding bridges, or whatever bit of foolishness she puts on him, but, she’s in control. And her problem is to live in a relationship that is authentic of love, and the only way she can do it is by testing the one who offers himself. She isn’t offering herself, he’s offering himself. But, she’s in control of what happens then with step two.10

“The technical term for a woman’s granting of herself was merci; the woman grants her merci. Now, that might consist in her permission for the man to kiss her on the back of the neck once every Whitsuntide, you know, something like that – or it may be a full giving in love. That would depend upon her estimation of the character of the candidate. The essential idea was to test this man to make sure that he would suffer things for love, and that this was not just lust.

The tests that were given then by women involved, for example, sending a chap out to guard a bridge. The traffic in the Middle Ages was somewhat encumbered by these youths guarding bridges. But also the tests included going into battle. A woman who was too ruthless in asking her lover to risk a real death before she would acquiesce in anything was considered sauvage or “savage”. Also, the woman who gave herself without the testing was “savage”. There was a very nice psychological estimation game going on here.11

Today that psychological estimation game (as Campbell puts it) might involve asking consent to sit with a woman, appealing politely for a date, waiting patiently for her to call or sweep right, keeping his knees together to avoid manspreading, or asking for permission to speak in order to prove he is not talking over her or mansplaining. Such demonstrations show the feminist woman that he has a gentle heart, and that he is willing to suffer things for love.

That psychological testing also encompasses public activities which demonstrate a man’s commitment to serving womankind as a whole. Examples would be a man walking a mile in her shoes, or joining White Ribbon Campaigns that require men, as was required of the medieval knights, to pledge oaths to “Never to condone, or remain silent about violence towards women and girls” and especially to intervene when learning of any male behaving offensively toward a woman.

Today’s White Ribbon “oath” bears a striking resemblance to the 14th century enterprise of the Green Shield with the White Lady (Emprise de l’Escu vert à la Dame Blanche) in which men committed themselves for the duration of five years to serving women. Inspired by the ideal of courtly love, the stated purpose of the order was to guard and defend the honor, estate, goods, reputation, fame and praise of all ladies. It was an undertaking that earned the praise of protofeminist Christine de Pizan. The continuity of chivalry and courtly love from the medieval knightly oath to the modern feminist-inspired oath is remarkable in its consistency.

In line with most women who expect men to follow medieval rules of love concerning male courtesy, the feminist movement is geared toward enforcing the same goal. Feminism however postures itself as disavowing that goal even while they are at the forefront of institutionalizing it in our families, our schools, our political structures and laws.

Each of the psychological tests mentioned above are evidence of a love service called for by feminist activists. Or worded differently, they are sanctified methods by which men are called to demonstrate obedience and a ‘gentle heart’ in contrast to the brutality, rapiness and exploitativeness of the savage heart; the default feminist conception of men.

I will close here with the words of an academic feminist, one not so coy about identifying courtly love with the project of feminism. Elizabeth Reid Boyd of the School of Psychology and Social Science at Edith Cowan University, and Director of the Centre for Research for Women in Western Australia with more than a decade as a feminist researcher and teacher of women’s studies tells:

In this article I muse upon arguments that romance is a form of feminism. Going back to its history in the Middle Ages and its invention by noblewomen who created the notion of courtly love, examining its contemporary popular explosion and the concurrent rise of popular romance studies in the academy that has emerged in the wake of women’s studies, and positing an empowering female future for the genre, I propose that reading and writing romantic fiction is not only personal escapism, but also political activism.

Romance has a feminist past that belies its ostensible frivolity. Romance, as most true romantics know, began in medieval times. The word originally referred to the language romanz, linked to the French, Italian and Spanish languages in which love stories, songs and ballads were written. Stories, poems and songs written in this language were called romances to separate them from more serious literature – a distinction we still have today. Romances were popular and fashionable. Love songs and stories, like those of Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde, were soon on the lips of troubadours and minstrels all over Europe. Romance spread rapidly. It has been called the first form of feminism (Putnam 1970).12

Reid Boyd finishes her paper by waxing poetic about the many joys of romantic love, and of its increasing popularity in academe.

Same as it ever was, the project of modern feminism can be summarized as championing victimhood (damseling), soliciting favors from men and governments (chivalry), and promoting “respectful” relationships by men-toward-women (courtly love).

References:

[1] Christina Hoff-Sommers, How fainting couch feminism threatens freedom, American Enterprise Institute 2015
[2] Naomi Wolf, Fire With Fire: New Female Power, 1993
[3] Rene Denfeld, The New Victorians: A Young Woman’s Challenge to the Old Feminist Order, 1995
[4] Ernest B. Bax, Feminism and Female Suffrage, 1910
[5] Ernest B. Bax, Mr. Belfort Bax Replies to his Feminist Critics, 1908
[6] Naomi Wolf, Fire With Fire: New Female Power, 1993
[7] Emily Esfahani Smith, Let’s Give Chivalry Another Chance, The Atlantic, Dec 10 2012
[8] Ernest B. Bax, Chapter-5 ‘The Chivalry Fake’ in The Fraud of Feminism, 1913
[9] Sandra Alfonsi, Masculine Submission in Troubadour Lyric, 1986
[10] Joseph Campbell, Parzival, the Graal, and Grail Legends, talk at the Ojai Foundation, 1987
[11] Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, interview with Bill Moyers, 1988
[12] Elizabeth Reid Boyd, Romancing Feminism: From Women’s Studies to Women’s Fiction, 2014

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Damseling, chivalry and courtly love (part one)

This article is the first of a two-part series looking at the roots of damseling, chivalry and courtly love as fundamentals in the gynocentric tradition. Part two will look at damseling, chivalry and courtly love as it appears in contemporary feminism. – PW

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GYNOCENTRISM

The dominant features of gender relations come from old Europe in the forms of damseling, chivalry and courtly-love. Together they form the customs, in fact the essence, of gynocentric culture.

This holy trinity was crafted into a system of deportment by 12th century French and German aristocrats, setting a trend that spread to all the aristocratic courts of Europe. From those lofty parlors it filtered into popular culture, being transported eventually to the new world on the wings of colonial expansion.

The principle modes of transmission were expositions from upper class men and women; troubadour performances; plays; and notably a new genre of literature referred to as romance literature in which knights were celebrated for saving damsels in distress, and male lovers endured tortuous and trial-ridden tests in an attempt to secure a love bond with a beloved lady.

Nine hundred years later and romance novels remain the largest selling literature genre in the world, and we equally see the obsession with damseling and chivalry which dominate our politics, our societies, and our conversations over the dinner table.

In what follows, each of these gynocentric pillars and their historical roots will be summarized, along with references to the biological imperatives that give them their internal drive. Lastly (in part 2) an argument will be made that feminism today is nothing more, and nothing less, than a perpetuation of this medieval triad.

Let’s take a closer look at these three elements.

Damseling

Damseling is a popular shorthand for women’s projection of themselves as damsels in distress, regardless of whether the distress and the reasons for it are real or manufactured.

An excellent overview of damseling and its history was posted on Reddit in 2014 by author LemonMcAlister:

We hear a lot about the “Damsel in Distress” trope and how it is both uncreative and damaging to women as a whole. The idea that a woman needs to be rescued by a valiant hero is held up as a sexist concept created by men who view women merely as a prize to be won.

Would you be surprised if I told you this trope actually has a heavily feminist origin?

In order to explain this, we’ll need to go back in time about 1,000 years. In Medieval Europe, this was a time of rampant violence and wars with no other goal than material gain. Even long before the First Crusade, popular fiction took the form of heroic songs and epic poems much like Beowulf. They were sung in great halls and appealed mainly to a very masculine audience.

One thing many people are surprised to hear is that early legends and stories of King Arthur are exceedingly violent, gory, and action packed. Knights routinely have their head split to the shoulders, warriors are killed on almost every page, and there is even a giant who has his testicles sliced off in a fight.

The common understanding of Arthurian legend, however, is one of chivalry and courtly love. Knights fight for their ladies and for God. Love and romance is considered by most people to be a major part of the Arthurian stories.

The truth, however, is that this emphasis on love and romance, the idea that knights would fight to rescue a lady from a villain, is a later addition and was promoted by someone who can undeniably be called a feminist.

Eleanor of Aquitaine, born somewhere around 1123, was, as Wikipedia calls her, “one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe during the High Middle Ages”. She is well known for doing many “unlady-like” things such as taking up the cross for the second crusade, recruiting women from her court to accompany her, and personally leading her own army as a feudal lord.

What’s important here is that she is also responsible for the major and dramatic shift in the themes of popular fiction. Chrétien de Troyes, a poet of the late 12th century, is probably the most well-known writer dealing with this new type of Arthurian story. Some of these stories, in fact, were written for Eleanor’s daughter, Marie de Champagne.

Emphasis was no longer placed on Arthur nor did these stories focus on a thoroughly manly knight’s ability to split skulls. Arthur himself is used as a bit of a background decoration and is essentially a kindly old king that rules over his kingdom but doesn’t take much of an active part in the stories.

The focus of the stories was on love, romance, and the concept that chivalry should emphasize a knight’s utter devotion to his lady. Women also became more powerful. Far from being a prize to be won, they often helped their knights in one very important way or another.

In these stories, which are vastly different from earlier popular fiction, the love of a lady was the highest prize a knight could win, short of divine favor.

As society continued to change and we emerged from the dark ages, the stories remained immensely popular. There was no longer a need for savage and brutal warriors who could slaughter legions of people. Society’s focus was on cultural ideals such as courtly love, romance, and the chivalric service of ladies.

My point here is that the original Arthurian stories, and essentially all popular fiction of the time, treated women as nothing more than a means to social, economic, and political advancement. The stories hardly ever included women and those that were present never played a significant role in the narrative.

It wasn’t until Eleanor’s reign, and the influence she had on popular fiction, that we see the development of the “Damsel in Distress” trope. This trope, however, was created because it appealed to women. It was an effort to include women in the enjoyment of popular fiction and marked a major change in society’s values.

No longer were women merely an object, they were the entire motivation. No longer were they seen as merely a means to an end, they were the very focus of the story itself.

The “Damsel in Distress” trope is far from a misogynistic effort to treat women as prizes and is actually a result of the increased power and influence women were gaining during Eleanor’s reign. It has continued to remain a popular story telling device because it appeals to both sexes by presenting an idealized view, both of society and what a hero’s motivation should be.

The hero rescues the woman, placing himself in mortal danger, for love and love alone. Had we remained with the male dominated form of story-telling, the hero would rescue the damsel because marrying her would allow him to muster a larger army with which he could violently murder his chosen enemies. The woman’s desire to be married to the hero would not factor into the equation at all.

Damsels are in distress because there is an extremely high value placed on them and they are, in many ways, the entire motivation for the hero and the story itself. The hero rescues the damsel because he is motivated by love, not by a desire to possess a prize.

The trials he goes through are tests not of his strength and masculinity but of his overpowering love for the damsel.

The damsel is, in other words, far more important than the hero.

As indicated in that summary, the chief goal of damseling is to evoke chivalric behaviors in men. The biological drive underpinning it is our urge to protect and provide for children, behavior which is triggered by juvenile characteristics such as a rounded forehead, large eyes, and most importantly helplessness.

As elaborated in a previous article, women have been taught from generation to generation to mimic juvenile characteristics via the use of makeup and vocal tonations, along with a feigning of distress typical of children — which collectively works to extract utility from men. While woman are capable of solving most of their own problems and providing for their own needs and wants, many have cultivated a posture of helplessness,  damseling their way out of doing the dirty, dangerous or stressful work required to achieve those goals.

Why exert yourself when men can be manipulated to do it for you?

Chivalry

Different definitions have been attached to the word chivalry throughout history. To make matters more confusing, encyclopedic overviews tend to blend those different meanings into an ungainly synthesis, making the job of teasing out distinctive meanings more difficult.

While there are differing definitions, the most common use of the term today is the one we need to describe. That job is made easy by modern dictionaries in which chivalry is given two separate and radically different definitions – a contemporary definition and an archaic, largely obsolete one:

► 1. very polite, honorable, and generous behaviour, especially by men towards women
► 2. the system of behaviour followed by knights in the medieval period of history, that put a high value on honour, knightly skill, and martial valor.1

The first is the definition we are concerned with here. To be sure, chivalry has been a woman-centered enterprise for close to a millennium, and early accounts such as that by Walter Scott in the year 1818 render the meaning clear:

“The main ingredient in the spirit of Chivalry, second in force only to the religious zeal of its professors, and frequently predominating over it, was a devotion to the female sex, and particularly to her whom each knight selected as the chief object of his affection, of a nature so extravagant and unbounded as to approach to a sort of idolatry.

“Amid the various duties of knighthood, that of protecting the female sex, respecting their persons, and redressing their wrongs, becoming the champion of their cause, and the chastiser of those by whom they were injured, was represented as one of the principal objects of the institution. Their oath bound the new-made knights to defend the cause of all women without exception ; and the most pressing way of conjuring them to grant a boon was to implore it in the name of God and the ladies. The cause of a distressed lady was, in many instances, preferable to that even of the country to which the knight belonged.

“The defence of the female sex in general, the regard due to their honour, the subservience paid to their commands, the reverent awe and courtesy, which, in their presence, forbear all unseemly words and actions, were so blended with the institution of Chivalry as to form its very essence. But it was not enough that the “very perfect, gentle knight,” should reverence the fair sex in general. It was essential to his character that he should select, as his proper choice, “a lady and a love,” to be the polar star of his thoughts, the mistress of his affections, and the directress of his actions. In her service, he was to observe the duties of loyalty, faith, secrecy, and reverence. Without such an empress of his heart, a knight, in the phrase of the times, was a ship without a rudder, a horse without a bridle, a sword without a hilt ; a being, in short, devoid of that ruling guidance and intelligence, which ought to inspire his bravery, and direct his actions.

Note the references to protecting the female sex and of redressing their wrongs as hallmarks of chivalry, with men going even so far as to believe the cause of a distressed lady is preferable to that of the nation to which he belonged.

But that protection, provision and adoration is only one half the story — the other half being fulfilled by the damsel in distress. The damsel represents the vulnerable and needy child who pulls on parental heartstrings, behavior provoking the parental brain state referred to by neurobiologists. Chivalry is shorthand for the parental brain state by which men are moved to protect, provide for and adore an adult disguised as a child.

Courtly love

Courtly love, which was later called romantic love, is the program of cultivating deference of men toward women. It was born as a twofold movement beginning with a social shaming of men for bad behaviors, followed by a proposal that men could atone for bad behavior by worship of women through a new code of love.

The idea was launched by powerful women of the medieval aristocracy who cited the worst behaviors of the most unruly males and extrapolated those behaviors to the entire gender. Knights were particularly singled out – much like today’s sporting heroes who display some kind of faux pas – and used as examples of distasteful male behavior requiring the remedy of sweeping cultural reform.

During that time of (supposedly) unruly males, uneducated squires were said to ride mangy horses into mess halls, and rude young men diverted eyes from psalters in the very midst of mass. Among the knights and in the atmosphere of tournaments occasional brawls with grisly incidents occurred – a cracked skull, a gouged eye – as the betting progressed and the dice flew. Male attention to clothing and fashion was said to be appalling, with men happy to go about in sheep and fox skins instead of clothes fashioned of rich and precious stuffs, in colours to better suit them in the company of ladies. And perhaps worst of all were their lack of refinement and manners toward women which was considered reprehensible.

The solutions to the ‘male problem’ was posed by the French Countess Marie, daughter of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Historian Amy Kelly tells;

“Marie organized the rabble of soldiers, fighting-cocks, jousters, springers, riding masters, troubadours, Poitevin nobles and debutantes, young chatelaines, adolescent princes, and infant princesses in the great hall of Poitiers. Of this pandemonium the countess fashioned a seemly and elegant society, the fame of which spread to the world. Here was a woman’s assize to draw men from the excitements of the tilt and the hunt, from dice and games, to feminine society, an assize to outlaw boorishness and compel the tribute of adulation to female majesty.”2

Marie was among the first of a long line of reformers to usher in a gynocentrism whose aim was to convince men of their shared flaws and to prescribe romantic love and concomitant worship of females as the remedy. The remedy was referred to as love service.

Love service involved the positioning of women as men’s superiors along with a series of prescribed behaviors for demonstrating the sexual hierarchy in male-female interactions. The meta-rules for those interactions can be found in troubadour poetry and in the book The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus, who wrote it under direction from Marie in 1188 AD.

The love service at the core of courtly love replicates feudal relations between vassals or serfs and their overlords. The feudal template was transferred wholesale into love relationships whereby each women came to be approached as a quasi ‘lord’ in each male-female relationship.

Sandra Alfonsi elaborated the feudalistic elements of courtly love in her book Masculine Submission in Troubadour Lyric:

The troubadours lived and functioned within a society based on feudalism. Certain ones were themselves feudal lords; others were liegemen dependent on such lords for their sustinence. The troubadours who were members of the clergy were also actively involved in this feudal society. It is only natural that their literature reflect some traits of the age in which it was created. Scholars soon saw striking parallels between feudalistic practices and certain tenets of Courtly Love. The comparisons lie in certain resemblances shared by vassalage and the courtly “love service.” Fundamental to both was the concept of obedience. As a vassal, the liegeman swore obedience to his lord. As a courtly lover, the poet chose a lady to whom he was required to swear obedience. Humility and obedience were two concepts familiar to medieval man, active components of his Weltanschauung. Critics, such as Erich Kohler, have found them exhibited in both the life and literature of that time.

The entire concept of love-service was patterned after the vassal’s oath to serve his lord with loyalty, tenacity, and courage. These same virtues were demanded of the poet. Like the liegeman vis-a-vis his sovereign, the poet approached his lady with fear and respect. Submitted to her, obedient to her will, he awaited a fief or honor as did the vassal. His compensation took many forms: the pleasure of his lady’s company in her chamber or in the garden; an avowal of her love; a secret meeting; a kiss or even le surplus, complete unity. Like the lord, the woman who was venerated and served was expected to reward her faithful and humble servant.

The similarities between courtly service and vassalage are indeed striking. Although of a more refined character than an ordinary vassal, the poet-lover is portrayed as his lady’s liegeman, involved in the ceremony of homage and pictured at the moment of the immixtio manuum. His reward for faithful service will doubtlessly include the osculum.

The influence of feudalism upon courtly love was, in my opinion, twofold: it provided the poets with a well-organized system of service after which they might pattern their own; it furnished them with a highly developed vocabulary centered around the service owed by a vassal to a lord. Feudalistic vocabulary was comprised of certain basic terminology indicative of the ties which legally bound a man to his lord in times of peace and war.3

Evolutionary Psychologist Don A. Monson paints a similar picture

This configuration of unequal power is the central feature of the poet-lover’s positioning of himself with regard to the love object. Drawing on the stratification and class-consciousness of medieval society, the canso describes primarily in terms of social hierarchy the woman’s psycho-sexual power to determine the outcome of the relationship. Thus the troubadour’s lady is regularly portrayed in terms denoting aristocracy, such as ‘‘noble’’ rica, franca or ‘‘high born’’ de bon aire, de aut paratge, whereas the poet stresses his own subordination, describing himself as ‘‘humble’’ umil, umelian, ‘‘submissive’’ aclin, and ‘‘obedient’’ obedien. The culmination of this tendency is one of the most pervasive images of troubadour poetry, the ‘‘feudal metaphor,’’ which compares the relationship of the lover and his lady to that which obtains between a vassal and his lord.

The poet-lover presents himself to his lady in an attitude of feudal homage omenatge, ‘‘kneeling’’ a/degenolhos with ‘‘hands clasped’’ mans jonchas. He declares himself to be his lady’s ‘‘man’’ ome or ‘‘liege man’’ ome lige and refers to the lady as his ‘‘lord’’ senhor, midons. He asks her to ‘‘retain’’ retener him as her ‘‘servant’’ ser, servidor or to take him into her ‘‘service’’ servizi. According to a military variant of the feudal metaphor, the lover ‘‘surrenders’’ se rendre to the lady, declaring himself ‘‘vanquished’’ vencut or ‘‘conquered’’ conques, and asks for her ‘‘mercy’’ merce.4

As described by Alfonsi and Monson, the demands of courtly love bespeak unbalanced power relationships, ones that engender vulnerability in the male supplicant along with an experience of a fragile pair-bonding that hovers in the realm of tantalizing.

In terms of our biological drives, courtly love captures the imperative for a strong, reliable pair-bonding experience, albeit one that remains maddeningly difficult to gain and maintain in the face of the convoluted conventions of courtly love.

The biological and cultural complexity covered above can be summarised in a few short lines;

Damseling is the cultural codification of neoteny.
Chivalry a cultural codification of the parental brain.
Courtly love is the codification of tantalizing pairbonds.

Part two of this series will look at how this holy trinity reappears in feminist ideology and activism.

References:

[1] Combination of Cambridge and Miriam-Webster dictionary definitions.
[2] Amy Kelly, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Her Courts of Love, Source: Speculum, Vol. 12, No. 1
[3] Sandra Alfonsi, Masculine Submission in Troubadour Lyric, 1986
[4] Don A. Monson, Why is la Belle Dame sans Merci?, Neophilologus 2011; 95: 523.

Dragon

Persiguiendo Al Dragón

Por Peter Wright & Paul Elam

Muchos estudiosos de las políticas sexuales plantean la noción “científica” de que nuestra cultura ginocéntrica es una realidad biológica básica, y que tenemos dos opciones: o bien seguimos el programa y disfrutamos, o bien nos retiramos del sistema de manera nihilista.

Una explicación alternativa del superestimulo sugiere que se trata simplemente de una exageración del potencial humano; una exageración que lleva al fracaso social y reproductivo, pese a la sabiduría popular.

El léxico de las biociencias nos puede resultar útil para entenderlo.

EggsPor ejemplo, en el caso de los pájaros hembra, prefieren incubar huevos artificiales de mayor tamaño, en vez de sus propios huevos naturales.

Los huevos grandes y coloridos son un superestímulo. El hecho de dejar desamparados los huevos auténticos es la superrespuesta.

De una forma similar, los seres humanos también son engañados con facilidad por los vendedores de comida basura. Es muy sencillo entrenar a los seres humanos para que elijan productos que provocan enfermedades cardiacas, diabetes y cáncer, en vez de los alimentos nutritivos para cuyo consumo y aprovechamiento han evolucionado; sólo hacen falta unos cuantos trucos con las papilas gustativas y los reflejos de hambre.

El azúcar y los carbohidratos refinados son superestímulos. El consumo de sustancias tóxicas es la superrespuesta.

La idea es que el comportamiento humano saludable evolucionó en respuesta a estímulos normales en el entorno natural de nuestros ancestros. Eso incluye nuestros instintos reproductivos. Esas mismas respuestas de conducta ahora han sido secuestradas por el estímulo supernormal1.

Desde este punto de vista, podemos ver que el superestímulo actúa como una droga potente, perfectamente comparable con la heroína o la cocaína, que imitan sustancias químicas más débiles, como la dopamina, la oxitocina y las endorfinas, todas ellas presente de manera natural en el cuerpo.

Como ocurre con la drogadicción, los efectos de los superestímulos son responsables de toda una serie de obsesiones y fracasos que afectan al hombre moderno: desde la epidemia de la obesidad y la obsesión con la territorialidad hasta los comportamientos destructivos, violentos y suicidas fundamentales en nuestro culto moderno al amor romántico.

Un detalle interesante sobre los superestímulos de los narcóticos artificiales es el fenómeno conocido como “la caza del dragón”. Es un término que surgió en los fumaderos de opio de China, y se refiere a lo que ocurre la primera vez que una persona inhala el vapor del opio. La euforia resultante es absoluta e incluso mágica… la primera vez.

Después, el consumidor intenta recrear ese subidón maravilloso, una y otra vez, con cantidades cada vez mayores de droga. Pero no puede. El cerebro ya se ha acostumbrado a la inundación de opiáceos artificiales. El consumidor se coloca y se vuelve adicto, pero la magia de la primera experiencia es una mariposa esquiva.

Pero la persiguen con todas sus fuerzas, tratando de cazar al dragón sobre el que cabalgaron en su primera experiencia.

Podemos ver un fenómeno similar en los hombres que, en sus relaciones con las mujeres, intentan desesperadamente ser recompensados con amor, sexo y aprobación, mediante el uso de la caballerosidad romántica. Como drogadictos, avanzan por una banda de Möbius, caminan en círculos, persiguiendo al dragón.

En nuestra opinión, no hay duda de cómo se produce esto.

A continuación presentamos tres ejemplos de superestímulos humanos, y cómo se utilizan para desencadenar una superrespuesta destructiva en el hombre.

  1. Neotenia fabricada artificialmente

La neotenia es la retención de las características infantiles en el cuerpo, la voz o los rasgos faciales. En el ser humano, la neotenia activa lo que se conoce como cerebro parental: un estado de la actividad cerebral que fomenta la nutrición y los cuidados. Esa activación se produce mediante el llamado mecanismo de liberación innato.

Un ejemplo clásico de mecanismo de liberación innato es el que tiene lugar cuando los polluelos de gaviota dan picotazos en el pico de sus padres para conseguir comida.

Todas las gaviotas adultas tienen una mancha roja en la parte inferior del pico; cuando la ven los polluelos, se desencadena, o libera, el instinto de darle un picotazo. Se trata del mecanismo de liberación innato.

Seagull

Desde luego, este mecanismo de liberación innato es vital para la supervivencia de las gaviotas, y en todas las especies de aves y de mamíferos (y en cualquier criatura a la que le preocupe su descendencia) existe algo similar. En los mamíferos, el infantilismo es uno de los mecanismos de liberación innatos que determinan, de forma inconsciente, nuestra motivación para proteger y proveer, garantizando así la supervivencia de la especie.

Sin embargo, las características infantiles humanas también se pueden manipular para obtener atenciones y apoyo que sobrepasen con mucho las necesidades de supervivencia.

En concreto, la mujer utiliza la neotenia para conseguir distintas ventajas, un hecho que no pasa desapercibido a la escritora y médica Esther Vilar, que escribe lo siguiente:

“El mayor ideal de la mujer es una vida sin trabajo ni responsabilidades. Pero, ¿quién lleva esa vida, aparte de un niño? Un niño de mirada suplicante, de cuerpo pequeño y gracioso, con hoyuelos, rellenito y de piel clara y tersa; un adulto en miniatura de lo más adorable. Es al niño a quien imita la mujer: su risa fácil, su indefensión, su necesidad de protección. Es necesario cuidar del niño, porque no puede valerse por sí mismo. ¿Y qué especie no cuida instintivamente de su descendencia? Debe hacerlo, si no quiere que la especia se extinga.

Con la ayuda de cosméticos hábilmente aplicados, diseñados para preservar ese preciado aspecto de bebé; con exclamaciones indefensas como “Uuuh” y “Aaah”, que denotan asombro, sorpresa y admiración en una conversación dulce y trivial, la mujer preserva ese aspecto de bebé durante el mayor tiempo posible, para que el mundo siga creyendo en la adorable y dulce niñita que fue antaño, y confía en que el instinto protector del hombre lo obligue a cuidar de ella.”2

Neoteny

El zoólgo Konrad Lorenz descubrió que las imágenes de cabezas redondeadas y con ojos grandes (izquierda) liberan reacciones parentales en un amplio espectro de especies mamíferas, en contraste con las cabezas anguladas y con ojos proporcionalmente más pequeño, que no provocan dichas respuestas.

Comparemos las imágenes de Lorenz de la izquierda con imágenes de maquillaje para los ojos (arriba), hábilmente aplicado por la mujer moderna en busca de amor. Las sombras de ojos, delineadores y rímeles de todos los colores, por no mencionar las horas practicando ante el espejo, abriendo los ojos al máximo y agitando las pestañas; todo está diseñado para estimular y activar los “paleo-reflejos” del espectador.

Los rostros femeninos neoténicos (ojos grandes, gran distancia entre los ojos, nariz pequeña) les resultan más atractivos a los hombres, mientras que los rostros menos neoténicos se consideran los menos atractivos, independientemente de la edad real de la mujer3. Y de todos estos rasgos, los ojos grandes son el indicio neoténico más eficaz4; se trata de una fórmula triunfal que ha sido utilizada en el anime y en los personajes de Disney, exagerando el tamaño de los ojos e infantilizando el rostro de la mujer adulta.

  1. Exageración de las cualidades sexuales

La vestimenta y las posturas corporales que realzan las caderas, los muslos, los traseros y los senos llevan milenios desarrollándose.

El corte, el color y la caída de las prendas; la ropa interior, los corsés, la lencería y los zapatos, sombreros, joyas y otros accesorios nos permitirían realizar un largo estudio sobre la evolución de la moda, y en términos de sexualidad, representan superestímulos diseñados para desatar una sobrecarga de atracción sexual en el espectador.

En relación con el “realzamiento”, resulta muy interesante la aparición de la cirugía plástica, pensada para transformar el cuerpo en un escenario de superestímulos, a veces con resultados grotescos e incluso letales. Esos son los riesgos que se corren y se aceptan al ir en pos de un atractivo sexual aumentado.

Implantes de pecho, implantes de glúteos, rinoplastias, abdominoplastias, lifting facial… todo ello diseñado para aumentar la sexualidad y, aún más importante, aumentar el poder y el control.

  1. Instinto de emparejamiento intensificado artificialmente

Todos hemos escuchado el consejo de la matrona experimentada a las mujeres más jóvenes: “Si les dais vuestro amor incondicionalmente, perderán el interés; privadles de un poco de afecto y los tendréis siempre suplicando que les deis más”.

Hoy en día, este mensaje está tan difundido que se están reutilizando técnicas de adiestramiento de animales para las mujeres que desean controlar las necesidades afectivas de los hombres. En Cómo hacer que tu hombre se comporte en 21 días o menos utilizando los secretos de los adiestradores caninos profesionales, podemos leer lo siguiente:

Attachment-2-small“Un perro siempre se porta mejor cuando quiere que lo alimentes. Después se vuelve un manojo de nervios. Un truco muy conocido para que el perro mantenga su mejor comportamiento consiste en llenar su comedero únicamente hasta la mitad, para que desee más.

Ocurre lo mismo con su hambre de afecto. Mantenlo siempre emocionalmente hambriento de ti, y será más atento y fácil de controlar.”

Por cruel que suene, la privación de afecto, sexo, aprobación y amor se ha convertido en otra herramienta del repertorio femenino de superestímulos, empleados para obtener por la fuerza el servicio del hombre. Es posible que hubiera una época en la que ese servicio se pudiese considerar una respuesta apropiada a un estímulo de supervivencia. Sin embargo, hoy en día ha sido sustituido por superestímulos, y el servicio masculino ha degenerado en una superrespuesta destructiva.

Esta clase de consejos amorosos para mujeres abunda en Internet. Pretenden intensificar el deseo del hombre, de manera que la obtención de un vínculo estable (algo necesario en una relación sana) se convierta en una meta, en un objetivo. Pero el juego de la caballerosidad romántica, como todos los juegos de feria, está amañado. La meta está siempre fuera de nuestro alcance.

La necesidad de amor, aceptación y seguridad del hombre, una necesidad humana básica, se ve frustrada, dejándolo inmerso en un ciclo permanente de privaciones.

De hecho, uno de los principios fundamentales del amor romántico consiste en mantener el vínculo amoroso en un halo de negación prometedora y tentadora, y en mantener al hombre siempre listo para ser manipulado y utilizado.

Tantalus
La palabra tantalizing (“tentador”) proviene de la historia griega de Tántalo. Éste, según nos cuenta la leyenda, ofendió a los dioses. Su castigo consistió en ser colocado en medio de un río, con el agua hasta el cuello. Hacia él se inclinaba un manzano cargado de manzanas rojas y maduras.

Los dioses lo castigaron con una sed y un hambre feroces. Cuando inclinaba la cabeza para saciar la sed, las aguas retrocedían. Del mismo modo, cuando alargaba el brazo para tomar una manzana, la rama ascendía, quedando fuera de su alcance.

Las mujeres son socializadas para tentar a los hombres con la posibilidad de un emparejamiento, para mantener el fruto del amor siempre fuera de su alcance, y para enturbiar aún más las aguas con los dictados de la caballerosidad romántica.

Si quieres ese vínculo de pareja, es decir, si quieres que te tienten más, más te vale recibirla con flores, abrirle la puerta y, evidentemente, pagar la cuenta.

Más te vale estar listo para vivir así el resto de tu vida, exiliado en el río con Tántalo, eternamente sediento y hambriento. Hoy en día, el simple afecto se ha transformado en algo muy complejo, un impulso que ahora está guiado por las costumbres de la caballerosidad romántica, diseñadas para otorgarle el máximo poder a la mujer.

Incluso cuando en principio ya se ha establecido el vínculo de pareja, es posible que te sigan privando de amor, sexo y aprobación como método de control. Puede ser incluso peor después de haberse emparejado que durante el proceso de cortejo.

Ese comportamiento femenino no es un reflejo innato y simple; es un reflejo en el que han sido educadas y socializadas culturalmente. La mayor parte de las niñas dominan el juego de la inclusión y la exclusión, en grupos o con sus amigas, mucho antes de cumplir 10 años, y las meta-normas que han aprendido vuelven a aparecer en los consejos amorosos populares;se trata de normas diseñadas para perturbar la seguridad afectiva de la que nosotros, como seres gregarios, disfrutaríamos en caso de no haber manipulación.

Las normas femeninas resuenan abiertamente a lo largo de todo un género literario:

  • Mantén un aire de misterio.
  • Esfuérzate únicamente al 30%.
  • Haz que sea él quien vaya a ti.
  • No te veas con él sin una semana de antelación.
  • No lo llames nunca, salvo para devolverle su llamada.
  • Nunca respondas inmediatamente a una llamada o a un mensaje.
  • Haz que sea él el que se acerque a ti.
  • No le devuelvas la llamada inmediatamente. Eres una chica solicitada.
  • Finaliza la llamada SIEMPRE a los 15 minutos (aunque no te guste. Así te llamará más).
  • Aunque no estés ocupada, finge que lo estás.

Hemos recopilado estos consejos tras un examen somero de únicamente dos páginas web con consejos amorosos para la mujer. Sin embargo, no son producto de la era de la información. Representan la expresión extensa y codificada de lo que se ha enseñado a las mujeres de generación en generación, desde el surgimiento de la caballerosidad romántica.

Son las bases de un adiestramiento para la obediencia, pensado para programar al hombre caballeroso y romántico; son superestímulos, tremendamente eficaces a la hora de provocar una superrespuesta. En esta caso, la adulación ciega y servil por parte de un hombre débil y poco introspectivo.

El Amor Romántico

El amor romántico se puede reconceptualizar como un conjunto de superestímulos, cuyas distintas facetas conducen a la sobreexcitación del sistema nervioso humano. Esa excitación tiende a perjudicar el bienestar a largo plazo del hombre. Pero el daño no se queda ahí. Nuestro mundo social y familiar se ve rápidamente desintegrado por los excesos y la toxicidad del amor romántico. En cierto modo, el amor romántico se ha convertido en una de las mayores explotaciones anti-humanas de la biología humana que ha conocido nuestra especie.

Para comprender de dónde proviene esto, es necesario examinar sucintamente la historia del amor romántico, antiguamente llamado amor cortés, para así mostrar que en sus comienzos ya se aplicaban esos mismos elementos. Tal y como han expuesto detalladamente nuestros antepasados medievales, la literatura revela la misma neotenia exagerada, la misma exageración de la sexualidad y la misma obsesión con el control del afecto romántico.

Aunque el engaño de la neotenia lleva en funcionamiento desde el antiguo Egipto, como mínimo, con las sombras y delineadores de ojos, esa práctica se popularizó después de que los cruzados descubrieran los cosméticos que se utilizaban en Oriente Medio y los difundieran por toda Europa5. En la Edad Media, las aristócratas europeas utilizaban ampliamente los cosméticos; Francia e Italia eran los centros principales de fabricación de cosméticos, incluidos compuestos estimulantes como la belladona (que en italiano significa “mujer bella”), que hacían que los ojos pareciesen más grandes6.

De este modo, la neotenia, fabricada mediante técnicas artesanales, se convirtió en la herencia cultural de todas las generaciones de muchachas que aprendían (y siguen aprendiendo) el arte de la aplicación y la exhibición del maquillaje, particularmente en los ojos. Tales prácticas probablemente fomentaron los elogios a los ojos femeninos en la poesía trovadoresca, como los que se encuentran en la autobiografía del poeta Ulrich von Liechtenstein, titulada En servicio de las damas. Podemos leer lo siguiente:

“La dama dulce y pura sabe bien cómo reír bellamente, con sus ojos brillantes. Por ello llevo la corona de los nobles placeres, mientras sus ojos se llenan del rocío que asciende desde su puro corazón, con su risa. Inmediatamente quedo herido por Minnie.”

french-corset-humor
La vestimenta también se utilizaba para realzar la sexualidad. Sin embargo, las modas no cambiaron demasiado durante muchísimo tiempo, y su utilidad sexual no se comprendió completamente. El momento en el que se empezó a modificar con mayor frecuencia el estilo de la ropa, además de reconocerse sus múltiples formas de realzar la sexualidad, se puede situar (en opinión de los historiadores de la moda James Laver y Fernand Braudel) en Europa, aproximadamente a mediados del siglo XIV, la época en la que ciertos elementos sexualizados, como la lencería y los corsés, empezaron a cobrar fama7.

La doctora Jane Burns aporta pruebas adicionales sobre el papel de la vestimenta en el empoderamiento sexual de la mujer medieval en su libro Courtly Love Undressed: Reading Through Clothes in Medieval French Culture [“El amor cortés al desnudo: la interpretación de la cultura medieval francesa a través de la vestimenta”]8.

Como se ha mencionado antes, el truco más eficaz del amor romántico era tentar al hombre con la promesa de afecto, un objetivo que permanecía casi completamente inalcanzable. Los relatos de los trovadores dan fe de la agonía esperanzada que afligía al amante varón; el hombre permanecía en una rara especie de purgatorio, esperando algún “consuelo” de su amada.

El juego medieval del amor llegó a su máxima expresión cuando los códigos de conducta romántica animaron a jugar con los extremos de la aceptación y el rechazo. Comparemos la lista anterior de normas amorosas con la siguiente lista de El arte del amor cortés, un manual amoroso muy divulgado durante el siglo XII:

  • El amor es un sufrimiento congénito.
  • El que no siente celos no puede amar.
  • Se sabe que el amor siempre crece o disminuye.
  • El valor de un amor es proporcional a la dificultad de la conquista.
  • El temor es el compañero constante del amor verdadero.
  • Los celos y el deseo de amar siempre crecen al sospechar del amante.
  • Poco duerme y come aquel a quien hacen sufrir sueños de amor.
  • El amante siempre teme que su amor no se gane su deseo.
  • Cuanto mayor sea la dificultad de intercambiar solaces, mayor será el deseo de los mismos, y mayor será el amor.
  • El exceso de oportunidades para verse y para hablar disminuyen el amor9.

La obra más romántica de Shakespeare cuenta la misma historia: Julieta mantiene a su amante a medio camino entre aquí y allá, entre un vínculo estable y la vida de soltero. Aquí, Julieta le dice a su amante obediente:

“Casi es de día. Quisiera que te hubieses ido;
Pero no más lejos de lo poco
Que una niña traviesa deja volar
Al pajarillo que tiene en la mano;
Infeliz cautivo de trenzadas ligaduras,
Al que así atrae de nuevo,
Recogiendo de golpe su hilo de seda.
¡Tanto es su amor enemigo de la libertad del prisionero!”

A lo que Romeo responde, cumpliendo las expectativas del amor romántico:

“Yo quisiera ser tu pajarillo.”

En este breve paseo por la historia, hemos llegado al punto de inflexión final del artículo, donde nos hacemos la pregunta del millón de dólares de Aristóteles: la causa final. ¿Con qué fin se emplean estos superestímulos?

Muchos responderían con un tópico: que tales prácticas consiguen “éxito reproductivo”; que la mujer que las utiliza obtiene una pareja de calidad y tiene descendencia que perpetúa la especie. Pero es una explicación demasiado simple. Para empezar, hay otros objetivos en la vida humana, aparte de la reproducción: el abastecimiento de alimentos, la obtención de riqueza, las necesidades afectivas, o la gratificación narcisista de una mujer que nunca haya querido tener descendencia. Los recursos obtenidos mediante esos superestímulos cuidadosamente preparados pueden servir para otros fines.

Además, los entusiastas de la reproducción parecen no haberse dado cuenta de que esas estrategias pueden ser perjudiciales para la reproducción. No hay más que observar las relaciones fallidas por doquier, la disminución del índice de natalidad y las sociedades occidentales en decadencia; todo ello augura un futuro negro, si continuamos montados a lomos de los superestímulos que tanto nos gusta explotar.

Sin duda, al habernos centrado en la reproducción, no hemos hecho suficiente hincapié en la gratificación narcisista, aunque ésta tampoco es la motivación final. No puede haber nada más gratificante para el impulso narcisista que el ejercicio del poder (cosa que hacen la mayoría de las mujeres), y los superestímulos les otorgan un poder inmenso para ello.

Es muy posible que la satisfacción narcisista sea un rasgo profundamente socializado de la mujer moderna, pero es evidente que sólo trae beneficios a corto plazo, y que a largo plazo los resultados no son demasiado positivos. Los datos muestran que el índice de infelicidad femenina ha aumentado rápidamente en esta época en la que la mujer “lo tiene todo”.

Cuculus_canorus_chick1En resumen, el ginocentrismo extremo en el que vivimos hoy en día es una aberración, un monstruo de Frankenstein que, en cierto modo, no debería existir; por lo menos no más que el gigantesco polluelo de cuco que crece en el nido de un pequeño pinzón. Es un fenómeno para el que nuestros sistemas no están preparados, pero continuamos atrapados en esteciclo de deseo incomprensible que lo mantiene vivo.

Podría compararse con una campaña propagandística tan fuerte como las que se usaban durante las guerras mundiales, apelando a nuestros reflejos territoriales; la diferencia es que esta campaña ha estado utilizándose y perfeccionándose continuamente desde hace 900 años.

Sea cual sea el impulso ginocéntrico que subyace en nuestro sistema nervioso, hoy en día se ha desarrollado exageradamente, y continuamos desarrollando mediante superestímulos cada vez más sofisticados. Pero si somos conscientes de ello, tal vez, sólo tal vez, podremos expulsar el huevo de cuco de nuestro nido biológico. Podemos empezar por reconocer que hemos estado hipnotizados, y tomar la decisión de no volver a consentirlo.

Es tan sencillo como dejar de ir en pos del dragón, y matarlo.

Fuentes:

[1] Artículo de Wikipedia sobre los superestímulos.

[2] Esther Vilar, El varón domado, (1971).

[3] Jones, D., Sexual Selection, Physical Attractiveness and Facial Neoteny: Cross-Cultural Evidence and Implications [“Selección sexual, atractivo físico y neotenia facial: pruebas y conclusiones interculturales”], Current Anthropology [“Antropología actual”], Vol. 36, No. 5 (1995), pp. 723-748.

[4] Cunningham, M.; Roberts, A.; Vu, C., “Their ideas of beauty are, on the whole, the same as ours”: consistency and variability in the cross-cultural perception of female physical attractiveness”[“Sus ideas de la belleza son, en su conjunto, las mismas que las nuestras: regularidad y variabilidad en la percepción intercultural del atractivo físico femenino”]. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology [“Revista de Psicología social y de la personalidad”] 68 (2): 261–79 (1995).

[5] John Toedt, Chemical Composition of Everyday Products [“Composición química de los productos cotidianos”], (2005).

[6] Linda D. Rhein, Mitchell Schlossman, Surfactants in Personal Care Products and Decorative Cosmetics [“Surfactantes en los productos de cuidado personal y en los cosméticos decorativos”], (2006)

[7] Laver, James., Abrams, H.N., The Concise History of Costume and Fashion [“Breve historia del vestuario y la moda”], (1979).

Fernand Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism, 15th–18th Centuries, Vol 1: The Structures of Everyday Life [“Civilización y capitalismo, siglos XV-XVIII, Vol 1: Las estructuras de la vida cotidiana”], William Collins & Sons, (1981)

[8] Jane Burns, Courtly Love Undressed: Reading Through Clothes in Medieval French Culture [“El amor cortés al desnudo: la interpretación de la cultura medieval francesa a través de la vestimenta”] (2005)

[9] Andreas Capellanus: The Art of Courtly Love[El arte del amor cortés] (republicado en 1990). El manual amoroso de Capellanus se escribió en 1185, por petición de Marie de Champagne, hija del rey Luis VII de Francia y de Leonor de Aquitania.

Foto de cuco por vladlen 666 – Obra propia, CCO.

http://www.avoiceformen.com/gynocentrism/the-supersizing-of-gynocentrism/

Dragon

Chasing the dragon: a biopsychosocial approach to understanding gynocentrism

By Peter Wright & Paul Elam

Many students of sexual politics posit the “scientific” notion that our culture of extreme gynocentrism is a basic biological reality; that we should either get with the program and enjoy it or bow out in a nihilistic fashion.

An alternative explanation of gynocentrism suggests it is merely an exaggeration of human potential; one that leads to social and reproductive failure despite common beliefs.

The bioscience lexicon can be helpful in understanding this.

A superstimulus refers to the exaggeration of a normal stimulus to which there is an existing biological tendency to respond. An exaggerated response, or, if you will, superresponse, can be elicited by any number of superstimuli.
Eggs

For example, when it comes to female birds, they will prefer to incubate larger, artificial eggs over their own natural ones.

Large, colorful eggs are a superstimulus. Leaving real eggs out to die is the superresponse.

Similarly, humans are easily exploited by junk food merchandisers. Humans are easily trained to choose products that cause heart disease, diabetes, and cancer over the nutritious food they evolved to eat and thrive on, simply by playing tricks on the taste buds and manipulating the starvation reflex.

Sugar and refined carbohydrates are superstimuli. Consuming toxic substances is the superresponse.

The idea is that healthy human behavior evolved in response to normal stimuli in our ancestor’s natural environment. That includes our reproductive instincts. The same behavioral responses have now been hijacked by the supernormal stimulus.1

From this perspective, we see that a superstimulus acts like a potent drug, one every bit comparable to heroin or cocaine which imitate weaker chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins, all of which occur naturally in our bodies.

As with drug addictions, the effects of superstimuli account for a range of obsessions and failures plaguing modern man – from the epidemic of obesity and obsessions with territoriality to the destructive, violent and suicidal behaviors central to our modern cult of romantic love.

An interesting tidbit about superstimuli of manufactured narcotics is the phenomenon known as “chasing the dragon.” It is a term that originated in the opium dens of China, and it refers to what happens the first time a person inhales opium vapor. The resulting euphoria is complete, even magical — the first time.

Subsequent to that, the user tries again and again, with ever-increasing amounts of the drug, to re-create that first blissful high. They can’t do it. The brain is now familiar with the flood of manufactured opiates. The user gets high and very addicted, but the magic of the first experience is an elusive butterfly.

They pursue it, though, with all their might, chasing the dragon they rode in their first experience.

We see a similar phenomenon with men trying desperately in their relationships with women to be rewarded with redeeming love, sex and approval, through the use of romantic chivalry. It sends them, like an addict, traveling the path of a Mobius strip, going in circles, chasing the dragon.

There is little doubt in our minds how this happens.

Here are three examples of human superstimuli, and how they are used to elicit a destructive superresponse in the human male.

1. Artificially manufactured neoteny

Neoteny is the retention of juvenile characteristics in body, voice or facial features. In humans, neoteny activates what is known as the parental brain, or the state of brain activity that promotes nurturance and caretaking. The activation occurs through something called an innate releasing mechanism.

A classic example of an innate releasing mechanism is when seagull chicks peck at the parent’s beak to get food.

Each adult seagull has a red spot on the underside of their beak, the sight of which instinctively triggers, or releases, the chicks to peck. It is the innate releasing mechanism.

Seagull

This innate releasing mechanism, of course, is essential to the survival of seagulls, and there is something like it to be found in all birds and mammals — any creature that cares for its offspring. In mammals, juvenility is one of the innate releasing mechanisms that unconsciously determine our motivations to protect and provide, thus ensuring the survival of the species.

Juvenile characteristics in humans, however, can also be manipulated to garner attention and support that far exceeds the demands of survival.

In particular, neoteny is exploited by women to gain various advantages, a fact not lost on medical doctor and author Esther Vilar, who writes:

Woman’s greatest ideal is a life without work or responsibility – yet who leads such a life but a child? A child with appealing eyes, a funny little body with dimples and sweet layers of baby fat and clear, taut skin – that darling minature of an adult. It is a child that woman imitates – its easy laugh, its helplessness, its need for protection. A child must be cared for; it cannot look after itself. And what species does not, by natural instinct, look after its offspring? It must – or the species will die out.

With the aid of skillfully applied cosmetics, designed to preserve that precious baby look; with the aid of helpless exclamations such as ‘Ooh’ and ‘Ah’ to denote astonishment, surprise, and admiration; with inane little bursts of conversation, women have preserved this ‘baby look’ for as long as possible so as to make the world continue to believe in the darling, sweet little girl she once was, and she relies on the protective instinct in man to make him take care of her.” 2

Zoologist Konrad Lorenz discovered that images releasing parental reactions across a wide range of mammalian species were rounded heads and large eyes (left), compared with angular heads with proportionally smaller eyes that do not elicit such responses.

Neoteny

Compare Lorenz’s images on the left with images of skilfully applied eye makeup above by the modern woman in search of romance. The many colored eyeshadows, eyeliners, and mascaras, not to mention the hours practiced in front of the mirror opening those eyes as wide as possible and fluttering – all designed to spur the viewer’s paleo reflexes into action.

Neotenic female faces (large eyes, greater distance between eyes, and small noses) are found to be more attractive to men while less neotenic female faces are considered the least attractive, regardless of the females’ actual age.3 And of these features, large eyes are the most effective of the neonate cues4 – a success formula utilized from Anime to Disney characters in which the eyes of adult women have been supersized and faces rendered childish.

2. Exaggeration of sexual qualities

Clothing and postures which exaggerate the hips, thighs, ass, breasts have been cultivated for millennia.

The cut, color, and drape of clothing; the underwear, corsets, lingerie and the shoes, hats, jewelry and other accessories make for a long study in the evolution of fashion – and in terms of sexuality they stand for nothing less than superstimuli designed to elicit an overload of sexual attraction in the viewer.

Perhaps more interesting on the enhancement front is the arrival of plastic surgery designed to transform the body into a theater of superstimuli, sometimes with grotesque, even fatal results. Such is the risk invited and embraced in the pursuit of enhanced sex-appeal.

Breast implants, butt implants, botox injections, nose jobs, tummy tucks, facelifts – all designed for enhanced sexuality, and even more importantly, enhanced power and control.

3. Artificially intensified pair-bonding drive

We have all heard the advice of the seasoned matron to younger women; “Don’t turn your love on like a tap or he will lose interest – withhold some affection and you’ll always have him begging for more.”

Attachment-2-smallThis message is now so widespread that animal-training techniques are being redeployed by women who wish to control their man’s attachment needs. In How to Make Your Man Behave in 21 Days or Less Using the Secrets of Professional Dog Trainers we read,

Consistently a dog is “nicest” when he wants to be fed. Then he becomes all wags and licks. A known trick for keeping a dog on his best behavior is to just fill his bowl halfway so he’s yearning for more.

Same goes for his appetite for affection. Keep him in constant emotional hunger for you and he’ll be more attentive and easier to control.

As cruel as it sounds, withholding affection, sex, approval and love have become part of women’s repertoire of superstimuli used to coerce men into service. Perhaps there was a time when that service could have been considered an appropriate response to a survival oriented stimulus. Now, however, it has been replaced by superstimuli and male service has degenerated into a destructive superresponse.

Such dating advice for women abounds on the internet with the aim to intensify a man’s desire by turning a secure bond, a necessity for healthy relationships, into a brass ring. Only on the ride of romantic chivalry, like all carnival sideshows, the game is rigged. The brass ring remains ever just out of reach.

Men’s basic human need for love, acceptance, and security, is frustrated, leaving them in a perpetual cycle of deprivation.

Indeed, it is one of the core principles of romantic love to keep the bond in the realm of tantalizing denial, and men, therefore in constant readiness to be manipulated and used.

TantalusThe word tantalizing comes from the Greek story of Tantalus. Tantalus, as the fable goes, offended the Gods. His punishment was to be placed in a river with the water up to his neck. A tree full of ripe, red apples leaned toward him.

The Gods afflicted him with a raging thirst and hunger. When he bent his head down to slake his thirst – the waters receded. Likewise, when he reached up to grab one of the apples, the branch recoiled higher and out of his reach.

Women are socialized to tantalize men with the possibility of pair-bonding, to keep fruit of love ever out of reach, and to further muddy the waters with the dictates of romantic chivalry.

If you want that pair-bond, which is to say if you want to be more tantalized, you had better greet her with flowers, hold the door open, and of course pick up the bill.

Be prepared to live that way for the rest of your life, exiled to the river with Tantalus, ever thirsty and hungry. In modern times, simple attachment is transformed into something complex – an impulse now guided by customs of a romantic chivalry, designed to tilt maximum power toward the woman.

Even when the pair-bond is supposedly attained, you may still experience the withdrawal of love, sex and approval as a method of control. It can even be worse once bonded than during the courtship process.

Such behavior from women is not a simple, innate reflex, but one in which they are culturally educated and socialized. Most girls become fluent in the game of inclusion and exclusion, in groups or among friends, well before the reach the age of 10 and the meta-rules learned there reappear again in popular dating advice – rules designed to meddle in the attachment security we social creatures would otherwise enjoy sans the manipulations.

The rules for women resonate shamelessly throughout an entire genre of literature:

– Keep an air of mystery
– Only put in 30 percent effort
– Make him come to you
– Never see him with less than 7 days notice
– Never call him unless returning a call
– Never return a call or text immediately
– Make him approach you
– Don’t call back immediately. You are a girl in demand.
– End call first after 15 minutes ALWAYS. (Even though it sucks. He will call you more.)
– Even if you are not busy, pretend like you are

Those items are the product of a cursory scan of just two internet dating sites with advice for women. They are not, however, an invention of the information age. They are the long codified expressions of what women have been taught, from generation to generation, since the advent of romantic chivalry.

They are obedience training basics for conditioning the romantically chivalrous man — superstimuli, powerfully effective in eliciting a superresponse. In this case, servile, blind sycophancy from weak, non-introspective men.

Romantic Love

Romantic love can be reconceptualized as a cluster of superstimuli, with each facet driving the human nervous system into over-excitement. That excitement tends to negatively impact men’s long-term welfare. The damage is not contained there. Our social and familial world is disintegrating rapidly under the excesses and toxicity of romantic love. In a way, romantic love has become one of the most anti-human exploitations of human biology to ever grace our species.

To understand where this originated we need to take a brief look at the history of romantic love, previously called courtly love, to show that the same elements were already at work at its inception. As laid out in great detail by medieval forebears, the literature reveals the same exaggerated neoteny, enhancements of sexuality, and the same obsessions surrounding control of romantic attachment.

While the neoteny ploy has been in operation at least since ancient Egypt in the form of colored eyeshadow and eyeliners, the practice gained greater popularity after the Crusaders found eyelid-coloring cosmetics used in the Middle East and who spread the practice throughout Europe.5 By the Middle Ages, European aristocrats were widely using cosmetics, with France and Italy becoming the chief centers of cosmetics manufacturing, including the use of stimulant compounds like Belladonna (Italian name meaning “beautiful woman”) that would make the eyes appear larger.6

Thus neoteny, manufactured by artisan techniques, became the cultural inheritance of each successive generation of girls who were – and still are – taught the art of applying and then displaying makeup, especially to the eyes. Such practices probably encouraged praises of women’s eyes in troubadour poetry, such as we read by the poet Ulrich von Liechtenstein in his autobiography titled In The Service of Ladies. There we read;

The pure, sweet lady knows well how to laugh beautifully with her sparkling eyes. Therefore I wear the crown of lofty joys, as her eyes become full of dew from the ground of her pure heart, with her laughing. Immediately I am wounded by Minnie.”

french-corset-humor

Clothing too was always used to enhance sexuality, however fashions didn’t change much over the course of millennia and their sexual utility was not fully realized. The beginnings of frequent change in clothing styles, along with recognition of their multitude ways of enhancing sexuality, began in Europe at a time that has been reliably dated by fashion historians James Laver and Fernand Braudel to the middle of the 14th century – a period when sexualised items like lingerie and corsets began their rise to fame.7

Jane Burns PhD adds further evidence of clothing’s role of sexually empowering medieval women in her book Courtly Love Undressed: Reading Through Clothes in Medieval French Culture.8

As mentioned earlier, the most powerful of romantic love’s tricks was the tantalizing of men with a promise of attachment, a goal that would remain largely out of reach. Stories of the troubadours attest to a hope-filled agony that plagued the male lover, with men dwelling in a strange kind of purgatory in waiting for a few “solaces” from the beloved.

The medieval love-game went into full swing when codes of romantic conduct encouraged a toying with the two extremes of acceptance and rejection. Compare the above list of dating rules with the following list from The Art of Courtly Love – a love manual widely disseminated in the 12th century:

– Love is a certain inborn suffering.
– Love cannot exist in the individual who cannot be jealous.
– Love constantly waxes and wanes.
– The value of love is commensurate with its difficulty of attainment.
– Apprehension is the constant companion of true love.
– Suspicion of the beloved generates jealousy and therefore intensifies love.
– Eating and sleeping diminish greatly when one is aggravated by love.
– The lover is always in fear that his love may not gain its desire.
– The greater the difficulty in exchanging solaces, and the more the desire for them, and love increases.
– Too many opportunities for seeing each other and talking will decrease love.9

Shakespeare’s most romantic of plays tells the same story, with Juliet keeping her lover midway between coming and going, between stable pair-bonding and the single life. Here Juliet tells her obedient lover;

‘Tis almost morning. I would have thee gone.
And yet no further than a wanton’s bird,
That lets it hop a little from his hand
Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,
And with a silken thread plucks it back again,
So loving-jealous of his liberty.

To which Romeo replies, in accord with the expectations of romantic love;

I would I were thy bird.

Following this little detour into history we now come to a final juncture of this article where we ask Aristotle’s million dollar question – that for the sake of which. To what end are these superstimuli employed?

Many would offer the clichéd answer that such practices garner “reproductive success,” that the woman employing them gains a quality mate and produces offspring to perpetuate the species. But this explanation is too simple. For starters, there are other aims of a human life than reproduction; such as garnering of food resources, securing wealth, attachment needs, or of securing narcissistic gratification for a woman who may never intend to have offspring – the resources garnered via her carefully orchestrated superstimuli can serve other ends.

Moreover, it appears not to have entered the minds of the reproduction enthusiasts that such strategies may, in fact, be deleterious to reproduction – all one has to do look at the failing relationships everywhere, lowering birth rates, and decaying societies in the West that do not portend a future of success riding on the back of the superstimuli we’ve grown so fond of exploiting.

Narcissistic gratification is certainly one motive we’ve under-emphasized in our focus on reproduction, though it too is not the final motive. There can be nothing more gratifying to the narcissistic impulse than to wield power – as do most women – and to this end superstimuli places immense power in their hands.

Narcissistic indulgence may well be a heavily socialized trait in modern women, but it also proves to be a short-term windfall with not so gainly long-term results. Evidence shows that the misery index for women has risen sharply in the age when they “have it all.”

Cuculus_canorus_chick1To summarize all that we’ve said, the extreme gynocentrism we live with today is a freak, a Frankenstein that on some level should not be, or at least should not be any more than the super-sized Cuckoo chick that swells in the nest of a tiny finch. It’s an event that our systems were not specifically designed for – yet we remain caught in the insoluble loop of desire that keeps it going.

We might think of it as a propaganda campaign every bit as strong as those used during the world wars to target our territorial reflexes, only this campaign has been in continual use and refinement for the last 900 years.

Whatever gynocentric impulse lies buried in our nervous system, it has now been supersized, and we continue to supersize it with ever more refinements of superstimuli – but if we regain our awareness we might, just might, kick this Cuckoo’s egg out of our biological nest – that can begin by recognizing that we have been hypnotized and deciding that we no longer wish to indulge it.

It’s as simple as choosing not to chase the dragon, but to slay it.

Sources:

[1] Wikpedia article for Superstimulus.
[2] Esther Vilar, The Manipulated Man, (1971).
[3] Jones, D., Sexual Selection, Physical Attractiveness and Facial Neoteny: Cross-Cultural Evidence and Implications, Current Anthropology, Vol. 36, No. 5 (1995), pp. 723-748.
[4] Cunningham, M.; Roberts, A.; Vu, C., “Their ideas of beauty are, on the whole, the same as ours”: consistency and variability in the cross-cultural perception of female physical attractiveness”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 68 (2): 261–79 (1995).
[5] John Toedt, Chemical Composition of Everyday Products, (2005).
[6] Linda D. Rhein, Mitchell Schlossman, Surfactants in Personal Care Products and Decorative Cosmetics, (2006)
[7] Laver, James., Abrams, H.N., The Concise History of Costume and Fashion, (1979).
Fernand Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism, 15th–18th Centuries, Vol 1: The Structures of Everyday Life“, William Collins & Sons, (1981)
[8] Jane Burns, Courtly Love Undressed: Reading Through Clothes in Medieval French Culture (2005)
[9] Andreas Capellanus: The Art of Courtly Love (republished 1990). Capellanus’ love manual was written in 1185 at the request of Marie de Champagne, daughter of King Louis VII of France and of Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Cuckoo image by vladlen666Own work, CC0,

Portrait of woman shouting at man getting headache

El Club de los Calzonazos

Lo que viene a continuación es una versión ampliada de un artículo de 2014. —PW

Muchos hombres buenos del Club de los Calzonazos deben mostrar buen comportamiento para poder mantener una relación pacífica con su media naranja —(1860)1

El Club de los Calzonazos es una organización absolutamente real, de alcance mundial, que lleva funcionando de manera continuada durante al menos 200 años. Atendía las necesidades de los hombres casados que sufrían maltrato doméstico por parte de sus esposas, y también atendía a jóvenes solteros que más adelante, tras casarse, quizá tuvieran que enfrentarse a los mismos problemas.

El Club de los Calzonazos (básicamente un proyecto para crear “buenos hombres” consistía en una red internacional de lugares de encuentro a los que acudían los hombres en busca de apoyo, especialmente si estaban sufriendo maltrato emocional y físico por parte de sus esposas. En este sentido, el club es similar a Al-Anon, el movimiento moderno de apoyo a cónyuges de alcohólicos. Estos clubs animaban activamente a los maridos a que tolerasenel maltrato de sus mujeres, y su estrategia consistía en aplacarlas con el medio que fuese necesario para moderar los comportamientos abusHenpecked-givos.

La palabra clave aquí es “aplacar”, que es algo que los hombres hacían sobradamente.

Se esperaba que los miembros del Club de los Calzonazos, por ejemplo, les llevaran el desayuno a la cama a sus esposas a diario, y que hicieran la mayoría de las tareas domésticas, incluso después de un duro día de trabajo, con la esperanza de conseguir que sus mujeres mantuvieran un humor más afable o (más exactamente) menos abusivo. A continuación se recogen instrucciones a todos los miembros del club:

  • Que todo miembro de esta sociedad encienda el fuego, prepare la tetera y haga hervir agua antes de despertar a su esposa por la mañana.
  • Que todo miembro le lleve a su esposa la ropa a la cama, tras haberla aireado y calentado, o recibirá una multa de dos peniques por cada falta.
  • Que le contará a su esposa el trabajo que ha llevado a cabo, y le preguntará si desea que haga algo más antes de irse a trabajar esa mañana.
  • Que si algún miembro llega a casa para la cena y se encuentra a su esposa chismorreando, y la cena sin hacer, no se quejará, sino que cocinará para sí mismo y para su familia, además de algo que le guste a su esposa para cuando esta vuelva a casa, o recibirá una multa de tres peniques.
  • Que si algún miembro, tras la jornada de trabajo, llega a casa y descubre que su mujer no ha lavado la vajilla, o alguna otra cosa que considera que debería haber hecho, debe hacerlo él mismo y no criticarla; igualmente, debe atender el fuego, calentar agua, barrer la casa, fregar el suelo y hacer las camas al gusto de ella, o recibirá una multa de cuatro peniques.
  • Que cuando algún miembro haya finalizado su semana laboral, deberá volver a casa con su salario y entregárselo íntegramente a su esposa.
  • Que cuando algún miembro haya entregado su salario a su esposa, le preguntará qué desea que haga a continuación; si desea que vaya a la tienda, deberá ir, pero si desea ir ella misma, deberá quedarse y limpiar la casa y los muebles, y ordenarlo todo de manera que ella esté contenta cuando vuelva, o recibirá una multa de seis peniques.
  • Que todas las mañanas de domingo, los miembros se levantarán a las seis de la mañana, encenderán el fuego, lavarán y vestirán a los niños (si los tienen) y los prepararán para el colegio, sin tener que molestar a su amada esposa; pero si ella le pide una pipa de tabaco, polvo de rapé o un refresco, deberá dárselo inmediatamente, o recibirá una multa de seis peniques.
  • Que si por ventura la esposa de un miembro desea tener prendas de calidad, como un sombrero de terciopelo de seda, un fino gorro con flores artificiales, un vestido nuevo, un miriñaque, botas, sandalias, medias de seda o cualquier otra prenda de moda, su marido deberá proporcionárselas, empleando para ello el dinero de sus horas extra, o recibirá una multa de un chelín y ocho peniques.
  • Que cuando la esposa de un miembro esté enferma o de parto, deberá correr tan rápido como pueda en busca del médico, ya sea de día o de noche, con nieve o con escarcha, granizo o lluvia, o recibirá una multa de dos chelines.
  • Que cualquier miembro que se niegue a lavar al niño cuando haya hecho de vientre o defecado, recibirá una multa de seis peniques.
  • Que todos los miembros deberán lavar los pañales sucios del niño cuando su esposa se lo ordene, o recibirá una multa de cuatro peniques.
  • Que todos los lunes por la noche, los miembros deberán lustrar los zapatos y los zuecos de su esposa y sus hijos.
  • Que todos los martes por la noche, los miembros deberán ir a buscar la ropa para lavar.
  • Que todos los miércoles por la noche, los miembros deberán revisar la bodega y comprobar que hay suficiente té, café, azúcar, mantequilla, pan, queso, harina, harina de maíz, carne de ternera o de carnero, y si resulta que falta algo, deberá ir a comprar más sin quejarse.
  • Que todos los jueves por la noche, los miembros deberán proporcionar a sus queridas esposas aquello que, según las circunstancias, pueda mejorar su felicidad íntima, como refrescos o licores.
  • Que todos los viernes por la noche, los miembros deberán revisar las medias, camisas, etc., que necesiten un remiendo, y deberá remendarlas él mismo.
  • Que todos los miembros deberán cumplir religiosamente las últimas cinco normas, o recibirán una multa de tres peniques por cada negligencia, impuesta por el comité2.

A veces, los miembros que sufrían maltrato a manos de sus esposas disfrazaban estas instrucciones(habituales en la mayoría de los Clubes de los Calzonazos)con humor y burlas hacia sí mismos. Esto ha llevado a concluir, erróneamente, que estos clubes eran una mera comedia. Pero se trata de una suposición incorrecta, tal vez fomentada por el rechazo a la idea de la violencia femenina: el problema del maltrato doméstico era una preocupación grave para los clubes, como también lo eran las estrategias para enfrentarse a ella.Henpecked-cartoon-Yorkshire-Evening-Post-Monday-25-March-1940

También se recomendaba a los hombres que absorbiesen cualquier violencia o maltrato sin quejarse, tolerándola estoicamente para no provocar ni irritar más a la maltratadora. La política del club explicaba que así era como uno se convertía en un “buen hombre”. Si la esposa del hombre continuaba con su maltrato tras estos gestos conciliadores, los oficiales del club preguntaban al hombre qué podía haber hecho inconscientemente para provocarla; también le preguntaban cómo podía servirla mejor para que no volviera a irritarse. La respuesta a esa pregunta solía ser que el hombre hiciera más tareas domésticas, aunque también existía una intervención innovadora: “acunar a la esposa hasta que se durmiera”; hablaré de esto más adelante.

Los clubes de los calzonazos existieron a centenares desde el siglo XVIII hasta la época contemporánea, y en lugares tan diversos como Inglaterra, Austria, Estados Unidos, Alemania, Francia, Australia, Yugoslavia, China y Japón.

¿Por qué, en una época en la que estamos tan centrados en las relaciones de género, no hemos oído hablar de estos clubes, teniendo en cuenta que en muchos había cientos de miembros esforzándose por sobrellevar matrimonios difíciles? Ni una mención de los historiadores, a pesar de la disponibilidad de materiales sobre los Clubes de los calzonazos. ¿Por qué?

Porque no pega con la imagen del “marido patriarcal dominante” que presentan las interpretaciones históricas modernas.

Así que con la intención de corregir la historia, a continuación presentamos un breve fragmento de un libro de 1810, titulado Descripción de una antigua y honorable sociedad, vulgarmente conocida como El club de los calzonazos, que demuestra que el proyecto de creación de “hombres buenos” lleva existiendo al menos 200 años, y probablemente aún más tiempo:

“[Los maridos] se someten a la agradable esclavitud de sus esposas en tan gran número, y con tanta buena voluntad, como en cualquier otro período ilustrado de la historia antigua o moderna.”Henpecked-club-title-page

“El calzonismo, que cuenta en sus filas con la mayor parte de los hombres más célebres que han nacido desde la creación hasta el día de hoy, ya sean legisladores, filósofos, conquistadores, poetas y enviados de Dios, no requiere otro argumento para justificar y establecer su derecho a influir y actuar de manera extensiva, que el lenguaje de todo amante, que admite sin reparos ser (y jura seguir siendo) el esclavo de su querida, antes del matrimonio; por lo tanto, aquel que niega la supremacía de la mujer que se convierte en su esposa es culpable de una rebelión criminal y antinatural contra la autoridad de la mujer, que el mismo Dios le ha impuesto al hombre. Sin embargo, si se quieren conocer otros argumentos, podrían aportarse muchos que demuestren que la superioridad de la hembra es de orden natural. Por ejemplo, tanto el más noble como el más fiero de los perros se someten dócilmente a los gruñidos y ladridos de la perra más lastimera de su especie.”

“Porque en el calzonismo no se hacen distinciones: la mujer sin igual mandonea a su vasallo tanto como la campesina: a todas se aplica por igual la feliz descripción del poeta:

“El vasallo encorvado de la esposa tirana,

Que no posee ni un céntimo que no le pertenezca a ella,

Que no tiene voluntad más que si ella se digna a dársela,

Que debe contarle los secretos de sus mejores amigos,

Que teme más que a nada una bronca a puerta cerrada.”

“Las normas que acatan los miembros de esas reuniones estaban en todo punto adaptadas para preservar la existencia de la institución. Los miembros que tuviesen el honor de recibir un ojo morado de su cónyuge tenían derecho a una asignación de 10 chelines con 6 peniques, mientras ese glorioso color perdurase. La asignación por los dos ojos morados era de un libra y un chelín. En cualquier caso, era necesario aportar pruebas de que la contusión había sido adquirida de acuerdo al verdadero espíritu del auténtico calzonismo, es decir, sin resistencia ni murmuración, según el ejemplo de nuestro inestimable miembro fallecido, Sócrates, al cual, junto a su esposa, alude el poeta en las siguientes líneas:

“Él sabía cuán a menudo ella lo regañaba,

Cuántos orinales le arrojaba al sabio,

Quien con paciencia se secaba la cabeza,

Y repetía: la lluvia sigue a los truenos.”

Los hombres casados que no tuvieran el honor de pertenecer a la Sociedad, eran sinceramente invitados a asistir a estas reuniones, no en calidad de miembros, sino de visitantes, para que pudieran convencerlos para unirse al ser testigos de la absoluta felicidad que esta otorga. Porque, ¿qué felicidad puede ser mayor que la de pertenecer a una esposa que se ocupa de la pesada carga de regular no sólo su conducta, sino también la de su marido y la del resto de su familia; a una esposa que se toma la molestia de recibir y gestionar todo el dinero; a una esposa que amablemente lleva a cabo la tarea de juzgar en nombre de su marido (en todos los casos) lo que debe hacer; cuánto tiempo debe pasar en el bar; cuánto dinero debe gastar; qué secretos debe guardar (ella, en realidad) y cuáles deben ser divulgados? En resumen, una mujer que carga sobre sus espaldas toda la ansiedad, todos los problemas, dejándole a su querido esposo la única y agradable tarea de ejecutar sus órdenes; recordemos que:

“Su propio cuerpo no es de él, sino mío,

Porque así lo dijo Pablo, y Pablo es un gran enviado de Dios.”

“El plan y el objeto evidente de la institución siempre ha sido preservar y, si es posible, ampliar el justo y loable dominio del bello sexo. Por ello, en las distintas reuniones se consideró adecuado solicitar también la asistencia de hombres solteros, no sólo para que se beneficien de tan perfectos ejemplos de sumisión, sino para que los solteros que aún no hayan pensado en el matrimonio, o que no hayan reparado en un aliciente para casarse tan importante como la existencia de nuestra institución, sean persuadidos de la conveniencia de colocarse, tan pronto como sea posible, a la altura de la mayor parte de los grandes hombres del mundo, a este respecto.”

“Los métodos más habituales que utilizan las hembras para intentar ejercer por completo ese poder ilimitado que les pertenece por derecho, consisten en, poco tiempo después del matrimonio, volverse extremadamente ruidosas y agresivas, y asegurarse de reprender a sus maridos por cualquier acción que realicen, crean o no sinceramente que su conducta ha sido censurable. Este método a veces se acompaña de golpes físicos. Si se continúa este comportamiento con perseverancia y energía, lo más probable es que se tenga éxito, pero existe un peligro considerable de resistencia por parte de individuos brutales imprudentemente denominados hombres de espíritu; esa resistencia puede acompañarse de consecuencias extremadamente perjudiciales para el semblante femenino. Sin embargo, recomendaría rotundamente a las mujeres que empleen este método con aquellos caracteres afeminados que tienen más miedo a recibir una paliza que disposición a defender su título de hombría, y considero especialmente apropiada su práctica con todos los petimetres y lechuguinos, criaturas que no poseen mayor prueba de su estatus de hombre que el hecho de tener dos piernas y vestir pantalones.”

“Ciertas mujeres siguen el rumbo contrario, con mucho éxito. En un momento dado cubren a sus maridos de caricias, exageran su propio afecto, y parecen no tener otro pasatiempo que convencerlos de que el único objetivo de sus vidas será inventar nuevos halagos, y hacerlos absolutamente felices en todos los aspectos. Sin embargo, en otro momento afectan enfado: una melancolía repentina y huraña sustituye su alegría anterior; suspiran con frecuencia, y rompen a llorar; además, sufren desvanecimientos y ataques de histeria.”

El desdichado marido de semejante esposa, alarmado por estos sorprendentes síntomas, le pregunta con ansiedad por el motivo. Ella finge evadir la pregunta; él se vuelve más insistente; ella insiste en su negativa a darle un motivo; su importunidad se acrecienta; hasta que al final le dice, con un gentil reproche y un estallido de dolor, que él le está rompiendo el corazón, que la única recompensa de su amor es el abandono, etc., etc. Asombrado por unas acusaciones que no cree merecer, al principio se esfuerza por ridiculizar lo que denomina ansiedad infantil. Sin embargo, ella finge seguir dudando; él protesta solemnemente, declarando su inocencia; y ambos se reconcilian. No obstante, en unos días se representa la misma farsa una y otra vez, hasta que el hombre infeliz se convence, en contra de lo que le dicen sus propios sentidos, de que su comportamiento ha sido inmoral. Es más, para aplacar a su afligida compañera, acaba por confesar sus faltas imaginarias, y promete corregirse en adelante. Por miedo a ofenderla involuntariamente, aprende a vigilar estrechamente sus propias acciones, tiene miedo a fijarse en las acciones de su esposa y, por el mismo motivo, es muy cauto a la hora de contradecirla, no sea que su crueldad le provoque un desvanecimiento; en resumen, se convierte en miembro de la Sociedad de los Calzonazos.

“Aunque el objetivo principal de nuestra sociedad es expandir la dominación del sexo femenino, no queremos en absoluto alcanzar ese fin con medios reprobables o inadecuados. Los únicos miembros dignos de la Sociedad son aquellos que lo son por estar convencidos de que serlo es algo útil, además de por un adecuado sentido de la superioridad de sus esposas. Sin embargo, todos esos miembros han sido tratados de una forma muy distinta a la que hemos descrito. Primero se han visto obligados a reconocer (y que todas las esposas se esfuercen por hacer lo mismo) que sus esposas, gracias a su cuidado y su frugalidad, están mejor adaptadas que ellos mismos para encargarse de sus preocupaciones; gracias a su comportamiento atento, que están mejor dotadas para gobernar sobre la familia; gracias a su benevolencia y moderación, que nunca abusarán de la autoridad que se les confiera. En un núcleo familiar así, jamás habrá conatos de resistencia. Las órdenes de una de las partes serán cumplidas con diligencia por la otra. Se establecerá una perpetua armonía; y las correcciones, cuando sean necesarias, se acatarán según la norma fundamental de la Sociedad, sin murmuración y sin resistencia alguna.”3

El pacificador de esposas del Buen Hombre

Henpecked-peace-box

Caja de paz del club de los calzonazos —Cura evidente para una esposa enfadada

Los buenos hombres del Club de los Calzonazos fueron responsables de un invento interesante: una cuna para adultos, que se empleaba para relajar a las esposas irritadas en vez de a los bebés. Si os fijáis veréis que tienen un pie curvado para que el solícito marido la pueda mecer suavemente de lado a lado.

La “Caja de paz” fue inventada en 1862 por un miembro del club llamado Harry Tap, y los miembros del Club de los Calzonazos que sufrían el comportamiento tempestuoso de sus esposas podían alquilarlas. Si una esposa maltrataba demasiado a su marido, el marido le pedía a su esposa que se acostase en la caja, que podía mecerse como la cuna de un niño, para conseguir que la esposa se durmiera. Mientras ella dormía, el marido realizaba todas las tareas del hogar, y después despertaba a su esposa, que con suerte ya se habría calmado.

Ahora que estos jugosos datos históricos salen a la luz, parece que hemos cerrado el círculo; regreso al futuro. Aquí seguimos, con el sombrero en la mano, suplicando perdón a la Querida Mujer por haberla disgustado, esperando que se dé cuenta de lo mucho que estamos intentando ser hombres buenos.

Puede que a estas alturas sientas náuseas al saber que los hombres han estado arrastrándose ante semejante maltrato durante cientos de años, o puede que miles, y aun así se nos sigue exigiendo que Lo encajes como un hombre™, Seas un hombre™, y que Seas un buen hombre™. Si te sientes así, no estás solo, y con el creciente ejército de hombres y mujeres del Movimiento por los Derechos del Hombre, puedes contribuir a acabar con unas costumbres ginocéntricas tan nefastas.

FUENTES:

[1] Huddersfield Chronicle – Sábado 11 de agosto de 1860

[2] Esta lista de deberes se utilizaba en la división de Rochdale del club, y es una versión resumida de un documento oficial anterior que circulaba por los clubes: Acta de mejora de nuevas normas y órdenes (1840).

[3] Descripción de una antigua y honorable sociedad, vulgarmente conocida como El club de los calzonazos(1810).